Christchurch teenager Josh Atkins has etched his name in the history books as the youngest rider to be crowned the 2011 PowerNet Tour of Southland champion.
Atkins and his PowerNet team of young guns Tom Scully, Shane Archbold, Myron Simpson, Alex Frame and Cam Karwowski did a sublime job of controlling the Tour’s final stanza from Winton to Invercargill today, shutting down numerous attempts by nearest rival Pure Black Racing to wrestle the yellow jersey.
“I’m very stoked to pull it off for the team. They rode incredibly,” Atkins said.
An utterly courageous effort by Pure Black Racing’s Tim Gudsell not only earned him an impressive stage win but thrust him into contention for the 2011 PowerNet Tour of Southland crown.
Heading into today’s the 167km stage from Invercargill to Gore, the Te Awamutu rider was 2min 21sec off the pace in 9th place overall but now trails PowerNet’s Josh Atkins by just 1min 5sec in the yellow jersey battle.
Ascot Park Hotel’s Patrick Bevan, of Rotorua, is just 4sec further adrift and also continues his tussle with Atkins for the Co-Operative Bank Under-23 jersey.
With just two stages remaining tomorrow, including the addition of an individual time trial at Winton, the 2011 race remains wide open.
But if the tenacious exploits his PowerNet team-mates displayed today are an appropriate gauge – and their legs hold strong for just one more day – 19-year-old Atkins could become the youngest victor in the Tour’s 56-year history.
“It was a super hard day on the bike and I owe it all to my PowerNet team-mates."
"They did an amazing job today and were on the front for 160km and helping me the whole way,” Atkins said.
The PowerNet Tour of Southland was blown wide open today following the withdrawal of leading contender Hayden Roulston.
Suffering from kidney stones, the Ashburton rider was forced to relinquish the coveted yellow jersey just 30km into the 179km stage from Te Anau to the Crown Range.
His father, Brian, said Roulston was “devastated”.
“He’s a bit dejected at the moment but he’ll live to fight another battle,” he said.
“He was devastated because he thought he had the legs and everything like that to achieve winning it five times."
"But there’s another year next year.”
After recently signing with pro team Radio Shack Nissan Trek, protecting Roulston’s international career was a priority.
“It’s more than just the Tour, his health is more important than anything else.” Brian Roulston said.
As Roulston was transported by ambulance to Southland Hospital for tests, news the race lead was up for grabs filtered quickly through the peloton and teams scrambled to adjust their tactics.
Ultimately, a commanding performance saw PowerNet’s 19-year-old weapon Josh Atkins ride his way into the race’s history books as one of the youngest to claim a stage victory.
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. <read more>
1/11/2011 - Hayden Roulston’s foot remains firmly planted on the accelerator in his PowerNet Tour of Southland quest, dubbed “the drive for five”.
The Calder Stewart rider powered to just his second Bluff Hill Climb victory in 10 Tour appearances today, effectively laying down the gauntlet for the rest of the field and reclaiming the yellow jersey from team-mate Jeremy Vennell, of Hastings.
“I’m really, really happy that I could win today. It’s a very famous climb in the Tour of Southland … for me to win today was mission accomplished,” Roulston, of Ashburton, said. “I was pretty comfortable going up the hill. They set a pretty fast pace at the start but it’s a hill where if you don’t ride within your red zone, you won’t have any other zone to go to at the top."
31/10/2011 - Dominating the sprint finish in stage one of the 2011 PowerNet Tour of Southland saw Ascot Park Hotel’s Clinton Avery avenge a “one inch loss” he suffered last year.
After enduring 160km of energy-sapping crosswinds, the Rotorua rider held off a strong challenge from the chasing group to claim the win in Lumsden.
“Long, hard, miserable – that pretty much sums up that stage,” he said. “Once we got in those valleys, it started to channel the wind a bit more so we had to toughen up a little bit.
30/10/2011 - Hayden Roulston launched his quest for a fifth PowerNet Tour of Southland title in commanding fashion today.
Propelled by his Calder Stewart team-mates, Roulston secured the yellow jersey after the opening 4km team time trial at Queens Park in Invercargill with a time of 4min 38sec – nearly four seconds faster than the PowerNet team.
“The goal was to win and we did that so that’s one to tick off the list,” Roulston, of Ashburton, said.
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Read, watch and listen to media coverage of the 2011 PowerNet Tour via our huge media contingent this year.
NEWS: Scoop.co.nz - PowerNet Tour hailed a success
NEWS: TVNZ - Tour of Southland - An A-Z
NEWS: Marlborough Express - Riding high after pivotal role
NEWS: Southland Times - Expect to hear more from lucky lad Atkins
NEWS: Scoop.co.nz - Pure Black Racing end year at Southland Tour
NEWS: Southland Times - Young Pair's local knowledge paid off
VIDEO: TVNZ - Atkins wins Tour
NEWS: Southland Times - Tour weathers all seasons
NEWS: Southland Times - Atkins shakes off shivers to win
NEWS: NZ Herald - Atkins wins Tour of Southland
NEWS: Southland Times - Santas add good cheer
NEWS: Radio Sport - Gudsell believes cancellation was pivotal
NEWS: Stuff.co.nz - Atkins riders to Tour title
NEWS: NZ Herald - Stage win gives Gudsell chance
NEWS: TVNZ - Penultimate stage cancelled
NEWS: Southland Times - Atkins poised to become youngest winner
VIDEO: TV3 - Gudsell brings stage win for Pure Black
NEWS: TVNZ - Solo effort earns stage win for Gudsell
NEWS: Otago Daily Times - King of the Mountains title all but his
NEWS: Northern Advocate - Lovegrove enjoys time in Tour lead
VIDEO: TV3 - Roulston's health more important than anything
VIDEO: TVNZ - Atkins in yellow after Roulston withdraws
VIDEO: TVNZ - Roulston has lead shaved
NEWS: Southland Times - Roulston remains dominant
NEWS: Roadcycling.co.nz - Paddy Bevin in hunt for yellow
NEWS: Southland Times - McCauley supreme in sprints
NEWS: Southland Times - Champion takes charge
NEWS: Cyclingnews.com - Livestong's early finish leads Lewis to Southland
VIDEO: TVNZ - Roulston reclaims lead
VIDEO: TV3 - Roulston claims Tour of Southland yellow jersey
NEWS: Roadcycling.co.nz - Watt a difference a break makes
NEWS: Southland Times - Wind whips tour into test of endurance
BLOG: Roadcycling.co.nz - A better day one for Team Ascot Park Hotel
NEWS: NZ Herald - McCauley still making splash in favourite race
VIDEO: TV3 - Roulston in top form for Tour
VIDEO: TVNZ - Avery avenges 2010 Tour of Southland loss
NEWS: Southland Times - Non-stop attack on Tour
VIDEO: TV3 - Cycling coach to make a comeback
NEWS: Southland Times - Roulston at the top of his game
NEWS: Roadcycling.co.nz - Behind the Scenes - Tony Corkill
NEWS: Ashburton Guardian - Hamish giving Southland tour a second shot
NEWS: Roadcycling.co.nz - Latest NZ champion ready to lead road team
NEWS: Southland Times - The Drive for five
NEWS: Southland Times - A Stylish Squad
NEWS: Roadcycling.co.nz - Paddy Bevin eyes up Southland
NEWS: Southland Times - Jeremy Yates' Tour of Southland Everest looms
NEWS: Roadcycling.co.nz - 40 year old Tour virgin
NEWS: Southland Times - Xcelerator puts cyclists on the fast track
NEWS: Roadcycling.co.nz - Gordon McCauley is ready for his 19th Tour of Southland
NEWS: Southland Times - Star leaving nothing to chance
NEWS: Roadcycling.co.nz - NZ Champion adds power to Mico Protrain
NEWS: Southland Times - Yates heads up quality team for this year's Tour
NEWS: TourofSouthland.com - Course changes announced for 2011 PowerNet Tour
NEWS: TourofSouthland.com - 2010 Tour one of the best
Commentators John Cardwell and Jon Bridges brought us a blow-by-blow description of every stage finish, culminating in the gripping finale which went all the way to the final sprint on Gala Street, Invercargill on Saturday November 6th.