3/11/2012 - Auckland’s Mike Northey has won the 2012 PowerNet Tour of Southland after a decisive final stage from Winton to Invercargill today.
Northey was 17 seconds behind Tour leader American Carter Jones (Bissell Pro Cycling) after the morning’s individual time trial in Winton, but the Tour’s defining moves were made in the final stage.
Led by Calder Stewart’s Hayden Roulston and Michael Vink, a break was made early and Northey and his Node 4-Subaru teammates made sure it was one they were not going to miss.
“It was dangerous, but in hindsight it worked well for us,” said Northey.
“I knew it was going to be the winning move and my team mate managed to jump me across to the break and that was it, we were away from there. It was pretty awesome and a good feeling to come in knowing I’d taken the title. I still can’t believe I’ve won.
“This is the biggest tour I’ve won, it’s my eighth time here and I never thought I would win it.”
Northey, 25, climbed his way into the yellow jersey early in the Tour, winning the stage finish at Bluff Hill on Tuesday and maintaining his hold on the lead throughout the two stages on Wednesday. Jones took the lead after Thursday’s stage, which finished on the Crown Range and, after Friday’s stage from Invercargill to Gore Jones retained just a 4 sec lead going into the final day.
“After the stage from Invercargill to Gore on Friday I was confident that if it all went my way I had a good shot at winning,” Northey said.
“There is a lot of luck involved as well and luck was on my side.”
Northey’s team mates – Christchurch’s Daniel Barry and UK riders Dave Clark, Matt Cronshaw, James Moss and James Sampson – worked hard throughout the week to support him.
Today, Northey was crediting his win to his team and to his years of experience riding the PowerNet Tour of Southland.
“You couldn’t do it without a strong team. We were always strength in numbers; we were the team that had the most guys up there at any point.
Definitely having a strong team around me helps and we have been racing together all year, so we know each other well. But it’s experience as well, knowing the roads and what to expect and knowing your competition as well.”
Today’s final stage, raced in cold and wet weather, was a thriller and it was powered by a strong Calder Stewart effort with Roulston winning the stage, Vink taking The Co-operative Bank U23 classification and the pair snatching second and third respectively in the general classification.
“We weren’t taking anything into the last day, but today we pretty much took it all, apart from the yellow jersey,” Vink said.
“Today’s stage was about riding hard and sorting out the contenders from the pretenders – and that is exactly what we did. It was only 80km but we certainly blew the field apart after a hard week of racing.”
Vink won the morning’s time trial in Winton and said, while that had not earned him much in terms of time, it had added to his confidence.
The final stage was reduced from 87km to 79km, with the four laps of Queens Park reduced to one.
While The Co-operative Bank U23 jersey changed hands on the final day of racing, the Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountain jersey stayed exactly where it had been all week –with Joe Chapman (Creation Signs-L&M Group Racing), as did the Harcourts Sprint Ace jersey which was won comfortably by Share the Road’s Sam Witmitz.
Northey’s Node 4-Subaru team also won the Wensley’s Cycles team classification.
Pieter Bulling (Ascot Park Hotel-Kia Motors-NZ Bike Magazine) was the leading Southland rider.