Defending champion Hayden Roulston’s grip on the 2011 PowerNet Tour of Southland yellow jersey has been shaved to just six seconds – and he’s not fazed one bit.
The Ashburton rider finished 1min 27sec behind stage winner Alex Meenhorst, of Auckland, in the 100km stage four trek from Tuatapere to Te Anau today.
“I’m pretty happy to be still in yellow but I wouldn’t have been disappointed to lose it just to give the team a day off tomorrow. I thought we had lost it actually so to hear I’m still in yellow was a bit of a surprise,” Roulston said.
The first breakaway group of the stage was swallowed up by the peloton after the tedious Blackmount hill climb, won by Cambridge’s Eric Drower.
With 25km left, Meenhorst and Kia Motors team-mate Keiran Hambrook, of Nelson, surged ahead in a five-strong breakaway which also featured Shem Rodger, of Pure Black Racing, Chris Macic, of Share the Road, and Subway’s Paul Odlin.
Spurred on by the quest for the yellow jersey, Macic worked tirelessly on the front but received little support and was shut out in the sprint to the finish, forcing him to settle for moving into second in the overall GC.
Meenhorst was stoked to secure Kia’s first stage victory in Tour history.
“The team was really motivated today. We’re not exactly the largest team but everyone plays so well together,” he said.
“This is actually my first really good victory in New Zealand. After coming second by just a couple of millimetres in Gore a few years ago, I’m really happy now to get something back.”
Pure Black Racing overtook Calder Stewart in the team standings by 13sec – a development which was also of little concern to Roulston.
“We’re here to win the race, we’re not here for team GC, we’re not even here for stage wins or anything else. There’s only one thing that matters and that’s how you’ve got to race the Tour,” he said said.
“When you go and chase the team GC, you automatically kill guys in the team, but for what? We’d rather win the race and go down fighting than go for something that isn’t actually important to us.”
As the mind games begin, Roulston questioned the tactics of some of the Tour’s younger riders.
“It’s just young riders riding young, you know. You wouldn’t see it very often in Europe having the number one team in New Zealand, Pure Black, attacking us when we’re riding tempo. It’s a little bit amateur-style racing but hey, we’re in New Zealand and that’s just the way it goes.”
Pure Black’s Glen Chadwick said they were determined to heap the pressure on the powerful Calder Stewart outfit.
“It was all about trying to stick it to Calder Stewart basically and we gave it a good crack up the mountain and down the other side. We just want to put them under a lot of pressure and I think we did,” he said.
PowerNet’s Josh Atkins retains the Co-Operative Bank under-23 jersey and remains a definite threat in the GC stakes just 10sec adrift of Roulston.
Auckland’s Gordon McCauley tightened his grip on the Harcourt Sprint Ace jersey, while Dunedin’s Joe Chapman continues to dominate the Hydralink-Jesco King of the Mountain standings.
Earlier in the day, Auckland’s Alex Ray claimed the 48km stage three from Riverton to Tuatapere for his H and J Smith Outdoor World – Avanti Plus team.
“I was backing myself for most of the stage. Once we got away I knew we had a pretty good chance of staying away … I knew I had the legs,” he said.
Tomorrow’s 179km stage from Te Anau to the Crown Range, near Queenstown, has been mooted as race-defining, but not according to Roulston.
“If you have a good ride tomorrow I guess you can add a few more seconds but I don’t think it’s all over. There actually has not been any wind yet and that’s what the peloton is forgetting. If they think it’s been hard they should wait until there’s a decent crosswind,” he said.
1. Alex Meenhorst (KMT) 2h17m46s; 2. Paul Odlin (SUB) ST; 3. Shem Rodger (PBR) ST; 4. Kieran Hambrook (KMT) ST; 5. Chris Macic (STR) at 04s; 6. Myron Simpson (PNT) at 01m27s; 7. Patrick Bevin (APH) at 01m27s; 8. Clinton Avery (APH) at 01m27s; 9. Sam Steele (CSL) at 01m27s; 10. Alexander Ray (OWA) at 01m27s; 11. Ryan Obst (RDS) at 01m27s; 12. Ian Smallman (SUB) at 01m27s; 13. Joseph Lewis (KMT) at 01m27s; 14. Marc Ryan (CST) at 01m27s; 15. Hayden Roulston (CST) at 01m27s; 16. Mark Langlands (OWA) at 01m27s; 17. Daniel Barry (PBR) at 01m27s; 18. Marc Prutton (STH) at 01m27s; 19. Fraser Gough (OWA) at 01m27s; 20. Dion Smith (OWA) at 01m27s; 21. Josh Atkins (PNT) at 01m27s; 22. Scott Lyttle (PBR) at 01m27s; 23. Taylor Gunman (OWA) at 01m27s; 24. Mike Olheiser (JPW) at 01m27s; 25. Patrick Jones (BSB) at 01m27s;
1. Hayden Roulston (CST) 11h13m11s; 2. Chris Macic (STR) at 06s; 3. Josh Atkins (PNT) at 10s; 4. Scott Lyttle (PBR) at 24s; 5. Paul Odlin (SUB) at 27s; 6. Shem Rodger (PBR) at 40s; 7. Patrick Bevin (APH) at 46s; 8. Jeremy Vennell (CST) at 48s; 9. George Bennett (KMT) at 50s; 10. Andi Bajic (STH) at 59s; 11. Jeremy Yates (STR) at 01m03s; 12. Tim Gudsell (PBR) at 01m05s; 13. Marc Ryan (CST) at 01m15s; 14. Nick Lovegrove (SUB) at 01m17s; 15. Mike Olheiser (JPW) at 01m24s; 16. Dion Smith (OWA) at 01m34s; 17. Taylor Gunman (OWA) at 01m41s; 18. Joseph Cooper (MCP) at 01m41s; 19. Clinton Avery (APH) at 01m42s; 20. Westley Gough (SUB) at 01m45s; 21. Brett Tivers (STR) at 01m50s; 22. Glen Chadwick (PBR) at 01m53s; 23. Tom Scully (PNT) at 02m02s; 24. Danny Pulbrook (RDS) at 02m08s; 25. Peter Latham (SUB) at 02m16s;
1. Pure Black Racing 33h41m32s; 2. Calder Stewart at 13s; 3. Share The Road at 57s; 4. Subway Pro Cycling at 01m34s; 5. Ascot Park Hotel at 01m43s; 6. H&J's Outdoor World-Avanti Plus at 02m30s; 7. PowerNet at 03m30s; 8. Kia Motors at 04m00s; 9. Henderson Contruction Ltd at 13m46s; 10. Mico-Protrain Cycling Team at 14m26s;
1. Gordon McCauley (BSB) 71; 2. Chris Macic (STR) 39; 3. Oliver Harding-Sheath (PTL) 28; 4. Tom Scully (PNT) 12; 5. Brad Evans (OCL) 12; 6. Cameron Karwowski (PNT) 12; 7. Alex Meenhorst (KMT) 11; 8. James McCoy (HCL) 11; 9. Clinton Avery (APH) 10; 10. Sam Horgan (SUB) 7;
1. Joe Chapman (CSL) 30; 2. Tom Hubbard (HCL) 12; 3. Aaron Strong (APH) 10; 4. Patrick Bevin (APH) 10; 5. Hayden Roulston (CST) 8; 6. Cameron Karwowski (PNT) 6; 7. Aaron Gate (CSL) 6; 8. Eric Drower (PTL) 6; 9. Brett Tivers (STR) 4; 10. Joseph Lewis (KMT) 4;
1. Alexander Ray (OWA) 1h00m13s; 2. Nick Lovegrove (SUB) ST; 3. Aaron Gate (CSL) ST; 4. Karl Murray (STR) at 01s; 5. Tom Scully (PNT) at 04s; 6. Brett Tivers (STR) at 04s; 7. Marc Ryan (CST) at 15s; 8. Shane Archbold (PNT) at 15s; 9. Ryan Obst (RDS) at 15s; 10. Myron Simpson (PNT) at 15s; 11. Michael Vink (MCP) at 15s; 12. Dion Smith (OWA) at 15s; 13. Patrick Bevin (APH) at 15s; 14. Patrick Jones (BSB) at 15s; 15. Joseph Lewis (KMT) at 15s; 16. Daniel Barry (PBR) at 15s; 17. Kieran Hambrook (KMT) at 15s; 18. Clinton Avery (APH) at 15s; 19. Marc Prutton (STH) at 15s; 20. Alex Meenhorst (KMT) at 15s; 21. Sam Bewley (CST) at 15s; 22. Justin Kerr (STR) at 15s; 23. Mark Langlands (OWA) at 15s; 24. Pavel Stuchlik (STH) at 15s; 25. Jeremy Yates (STR) at 15s;