TORCKLER CLAIMS LONG-AWAITED TOUR OF SOUTHLAND STAGE WIN
New Plymouth’s Michael Torckler has climbed his way into the yellow jersey with victory on stage three of the 2016 SBS Bank Tour of Southland.
Torckler defied tired legs which dogged him throughout the 138km stage from Mossburn to Coronet Peak to take a long-awaited victory on the race’s Queen stage.
“I was pretty excited to wake up in the morning and see it was going to be a calm, sunny day. It doesn’t get much better for me because I battle a bit in the crosswinds,” Torckler, who was nearly killed by a hit-and-run driver during a training ride in the United States in 2012, said.
“This stage really suits my abilities and it’s definitely my favourite stage on the tour.”
It’s Torckler’s eighth visit to Southland and he’s previously managed two second-placed finishes, but never claimed a stage win.
“It’s taken a while, but I’m super-stoked.”
It was a great day for Torckler’s Vantage Window and Doors team, with team captain and Olympic rowing gold medallist Hamish Bond finishing third on the stage.
“I came here on Thursday and rode up Coronet Peak and I knew I could get up here pretty quick,” Bond said.
“I’m really pleased for Mike, he’s been coming here for eight years trying to get a win, and for myself, I was really pleased to get up as fast as I could. Eighty kilos is a bit of weight to lug up that hill.”
Earlier in the day, a four-man breakaway of Regan Gough and Tim Rush (Mike Greer Homes), Nick Miller (Barry Stewart Builders) and Brendan Cole (Tineli Performance Bikewear) led the race by more than five minutes.
Rush, Gough and Cole started the majestic 9km climb up Coronet Peak together as the peloton quickly shut the gap down.
Rush managed to hold on for second place on the stage and take over the King of the Mountain Classification in the process.
Australian Drew Morey (Barry Stewart Builders) leads the under 23 standings, with Southland’s Nick Kergozou hanging on to the sprint jersey.
Anthony Chapman (Creation Signs-L&M Group Mining) is the leading over 35 rider, with Kia Motors-Ascot Park Hotel leading the teams classification.
Torckler holds a 36sec lead in the general classification over team mate Bond, with Michael Vink (Mike Greer Homes) third at 1min 10sec down.
Tomorrow’s fourth stage is a 148km stage from Invercargill through Eastern Southland to a famous finish atop Bluff Hill.
The 60th anniversary race finishes back in Invercargill on Saturday.
Full Michael Torckler interview here - https://soundcloud.com/user-954086242/ws452560wma
Full Hamish Bond Interview here - https://soundcloud.com/user-954086242/ws452561wma