Defending champion Michael Vink will take a handy lead into the final stage of the 2019 SBS Bank Tour of Southland.
Vink (Placemakers) has finished third in the penultimate stage, a 13km individual time trial based at Winton, with stage honours going to newly promoted New Zealand endurance track rider Dylan Kennett.
Vink leads the race by 2min 30sec from PowerNet’s Alex Heaney, with Hamish Schreurs at 4min 11sec.
Heavy rain before the stage gave way to relatively calm conditions for the field throughout the time trial.
Kennett (Placemakers) completed the circuit in 16min 17sec, nearly half a minute ahead of second placed Glenn Haden (Coupland’s Bakeries), with Vink a further 4sec behind.
“You had to be quite mature about your pacing and watts out there today, although the conditions were better than last year,” Kennett, who claimed the Tom Tindale trophy, said.
Vink is vying to become the first rider in more than a decade to successfully defend the Tour of Southland title.
Hayden Roulston was the last rider to achieve the feat, winning three straight titles between 2006 and 2008.
PowerNet have locked in the team classification, Southland’s Tom Sexton (Business South) will claim the Sprint Ace category and Ollie Jones (PowerNet) should take the King of the Mountain classification.
Team Skoda Fruzio’s Reuben Thompson holds a 44sec lead over Kees Duyveston (Creation Signs-Ronald McDonald House-Ricoh) in the under 23 classification.
Paul Odlin (PowerNet) holds a narrow 27sec lead over Haden in the race for the over 35 Silver jersey.
This afternoon’s seventh and final stage gets underway at 1.30pm, a 77km stage from Winton to Invercargill, finishing at Gala St at about 3pm.
Cantabrian Michael Vink has won back-to-back SBS Bank Tour of Southland titles.
The first rider to successfully defend his title since Hayden Roulston in 2008, Vink (Placemakers) finished third in this morning’s individual time trial and controlled the front of the race over the final 77km stage from Winton to Invercargill to win by 2min 38sec from PowerNet rider Alex Heaney, with Hamish Schreurs third overall at 4min 23sec.
Riders to have won multiple Southland titles include Roulston, Gordon McCauley, Graeme Miller, Brian Fowler, Jack Swart, Stephen Cox, Warwick Dalton and Tino Tabak.
“Winning back-to-back is pretty special. I looked up a couple of nights ago to see who had done it and it’s really a who’s who of New Zealand cycling, so to be up there with those guys is a pretty cool feeling.”
Vink’s victory was built on a tremendous performance by his Placemakers team in the fifth stage from Invercargill to Gore on Friday after it looked like Mexican rider Eder Frayre had climbed his way into an untouchable position after winning both Coronet Peak and Bluff Hill.
“I’ve done this tour 10 times and I know there’s always a chance, you’ve just got to find it. We got our chance on the way to Gore and we took it with both hands. The way the team rode was absolutely phenomenal.”
Vink has been competing in Southland for a decade and was a two-time runner up before breaking through in 2018.
“I guess you can say that when it rains it pours, and that’s not just the Southland weather. The first win definitely was the hardest, but each one is special in its own way,” he said.
“I was pretty nervous last night. When you’ve got one hand on the trophy you’ve got more to lose. I knew it was about getting the small things right, having a good time trial and getting the boys together for the final stage. To have Dylan get the stage win was the perfect way to end the tour.”
Vink will now have a week off before heading to Asia for a week-long stage race, followed by the Pioneer mountainbike race where he will attempt to defend his title with Tim Rush.
Dylan Kennett completed an outstanding final day on the 2019 tour, backing up his win in the time trial with the stage win in Gala St to finish the tour.
Kennett edged out his New Zealand track cycling teammates Campbell Stewart (Base Solutions Racing-WCNI) and Corbin Strong (Team Skoda Fruzio) for the stage win.
Strong won the Grant Toomey memorial trophy for first Southlander home, finishing seventh overall and second in the under 23 classification, which was taken out on the last stage by Dutch rider Antonie Van Noppen (PowerNet), who was also fourth overall.
Ollie Jones (PowerNet) won the King of the Mountain classification, with Southland’s Tom Sexton (Business South) taking out the Sprint Ace’s green jersey and taking Most Combative honours for the final stage.
After a superb second-placing in the individual time trial and a strong finish, Glenn Haden (Coupland’s Bakeries) came through to claim the over 35 Silver jersey.
PowerNet was a comfortable winner in the team classification.