The 2018 race will begin on Sunday October 28 and conclude at Queens Park on Saturday November 3.
COMM GAMES GOLD MEDALLIST TO RIDE TOUR OF SOUTHLAND
19/10/18 - Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning mountainbiker Sam Gaze is looking forward to a ‘hot lap’ of the province when he makes his debut in the SBS Bank Tour of Southland later this month.
The 22-year-old from Tokoroa is no stranger to road racing, but is better known for his exploits on knobbly tyres having twice won the world under 23 cross country title, along with silver and gold at the past two Commonwealth Games.
Unfortunately, a broken wrist and an injured ankle suffered during a World Cup practise run in Canada back in August forced a premature end to his mountainbike season.
“Growing up I would look at the Tour of Southland each year and think how cool it would be to ride that event one day and I’m really looking forward to doing a hot lap of Southland,” Gaze said.
“Most, if not all, of New Zealand’s best road riders have done the Tour of Southland at some point so it will be great to tick it off.”
Gaze will help form a competitive PowerNet team led by the experienced Paul Odlin.
While he is still building his strength following the crash in August, Gaze said he would take any opportunity that presented itself during the tour, which runs from October 28 to November 3.
“I don’t think I’ll have the power to really factor on the climbs, but if I’m in the mix for any of the sprint finishes I’ll definitely give it a go,” he said.
Gaze won the national criterium championships last year and has competed in the elite national road championships.
He will join the likes of defending champion James Piccoli and Hamish Bond on the start line for this year’s tour.
“Sam is a quality athlete and he’s going to be a great asset for the PowerNet team and really complement the team that we’ve put together,” team manager Aaron Sinclair said.
“PowerNet have been long-time supporters of the tour and we are proud to be involved again in 2018.”
HAMISH BOND SET TO RETURN
16/10/18 - His name is Bond, Hamish Bond - but it will be very much a cyclist, rather than an Olympic champion rower, who lines up for this year’s SBS Bank Tour of Southland.
The eight-time world and two-time Olympic rowing champion has targeted this year’s tour as another important building block towards his ultimate goal of representing New Zealand on the bike at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“The tour has given me something to keep me focussed and motivated in the short term, otherwise it would be easy to put the bike on the rack and enjoy being at home for a while. If I’m going to enter something I want to give the best account of myself that I can,” Bond said.
Bond previously rode New Zealand’s most prestigious cycle tour in 2009, before embarking on world domination in the Kiwi pair with Eric Murray, and again shortly after ending his rowing career with gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“I think I consider myself a cyclist now, it’s fair to say that’s how I view myself at the moment. I feel a bit more confident in my ability and more aware of my ability - knowing what I can do and what I can expect from myself, which I think is quite important,” the 32-year-old said.
“It’s not quite love, hate, but the tour is a big challenge and I’m looking forward to taking another step up from where I was last time. When I came down last it was just after the Olympics and I’d only been cycling a month or so.”
Bond will be part of a strong Kia Motors-Ascot Park Hotel team headed by defending champion James Piccoli, from Canada.
He recently finished 25th in his specialist time trial event at the UCI world championships in Austria, improving on his 39th on debut in Norway the previous year.
“I was hitting my targets as I was riding and I hoped that that performance would have me a little higher up the leaderboard and I guess that was a reality of the depth and level of international cycling,” he said.
“The guys at the top are there for a reason and have honed their craft over a long time and I’m trying to get up there quite quickly. I guess the reality was that I’m still a way aways. I’m competitive, but to be truly challenging the top 10 or the podium, which is the ultimate of what I would dare to dream to achieve, there’s still a long way to go.”
Since coming home from Austria, Bond has spent more time on his road bike than his time trial machine and entered bunch races around the Waikato to reacquaint himself with the politics of the peloton.
He will draw on his experiences from the 2016 Tour of Southland, including knowing how to protect himself from the conditions after suffering badly on one particularly cold day.
“I really like an honest challenge and that’s what you get in Southland. I remember we had one cold day and I thought I would have revelled in that, but I hated it and when you are cold your morale can go out the door really quickly, but I think two years on I’m more prepared and can take advantage rather than wanting to get off my bike and go home.”
The stunning ascent up Coronet Peak and the short time trial on the final day loom as potential targets.
“I felt like I performed well last time up Coronet Peak, which is contrary to being 80kg plus, which most people consider an obstacle - I think obstacles are largely in the mind,” he said.
“Also the time trial is something I’ve been working on for a while now and feel as though it’s something that I’m relatively adept at on a national level, although this is something different given that it’s shorter and on road bikes.”
The 62nd edition of the Tour of Southland gets underway with the team time trial around Invercargill’s Queens Park on October 28, finishing back in Invercargill on November 3.
DEFENDING CHAMP RETURNING
13/9/18: Last year’s SBS Bank Tour of Southland cycling champion James Piccoli will be back in 2018 to defend his title.
The popular Canadian became just the fourth international winner of New Zealand’s most prestigious stage race when he claimed a 35sec win over Michael Vink in the tour finale on Gala St.
Tour director Bruce Ross was excited that Piccoli will be back in the racing colours of the Kia Motors-Ascot Park Hotel team.
“While Kia Motors-Ascot Park Hotel haven’t confirmed their full line up yet, we know they will have a strong squad to throw behind James in this year’s race,” Ross said.
“James was a worthy champion last year - he won the Bluff Hill climb and produced a superb solo effort to chase down a strong breakaway in the fifth stage. Aside from that he was also a great bloke off the bike and you could tell that he really loved his week here in Southland.”
Foreign riders have been prevalent in the SBS Bank Tour of Southland down through the years, but few have been able to come out on top in a battle against both the local riders and the local conditions.
Australians Mal Powell (1964) and Mitchell Lovelock-Fay (2014) and United States rider John Lieswyn (2002 and 2004) are the only other overseas riders who have claimed the tour’s yellow jersey since 1956.
With 2015 champion Brad Evans also a confirmed starter, and the possibility of other former winners also on the starting line come October 28, Ross is confident that some great racing will be in store.
“We’ve seen some very close racing in recent years and this is shaping up to be a very strong field. We’ve had some great interest from overseas teams and of course we will also have the best of New Zealand’s up and coming riders on show as well.”
The 2018 edition starts with the traditional team time trial around Invercargill’s Queens Park on October 28, followed by nearly 1000km of hard racing on the roads of Southland and Central Otago before a winner is crowned on Gala St on November 3.