31/10/21 - Palmerston North’s Campbell Stewart’s star power was on display on the opening day of the 2021 SBS Bank Tour of Southland.
The Olympic silver medalist and his Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling team made a flawless start in challenging conditions, winning the team time trial prologue in the early afternoon before returning to Invercargill’s Queens Park and setting Stewart up for the stage victory in the 42km street race on the same course.
“The boys executed well and got me into good positioning and I managed to get out in front and light it up for the finish,” Stewart, who famously stepped in for an injured Aaron Gate and won silver in the omnium in Tokyo earlier this year, said.
“We had guys pretty much in every move all day. We had Logan (Currie) off the front for quite a while, so it made my life easy. Looking at it, I knew it was a stage for me and it’s a good way for us to start the tour, a couple of stages already, and hopefully the rest of the week goes well.”
Stewart edged out under 23 riders George Jackson (Creation Signs-MitoQ) and Mitchel Fitzsimons (Creation Signs) for the stage win, taking a 6sec time bonus in the process, and leads three of his team mate by 6sec, with his closest rival, Ethan Batt (Transport Engineering Southland - Talleys) at 14sec.
Logan Currie (Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling) is the leading under 23 rider, with Glenn Haden (Team Couplands) leading the over 35 category.
The Tour of Southland is the race where New Zealand’s best riders come to prove themselves and they got a chance to do just that as strong winds and driving rain buffeted the peloton during the prologue and a frenetic criterium-style first stage, which was a new addition to this year’s course.
More innovation is on the cards tomorrow with the addition of two gravel sections for the 172km stage two from Invercargill to Lumsden.
The second gravel section includes a 5km stage up the Glenure hill and is something that has been talked about a lot in the lead up to this year’s race.
“Hopefully I’m fit, I’ve been in MIQ for a few weeks so we’ll see if I’ve done enough training,” Stewart said.
“It’s awesome to be back in Invercargill for the Tour of Southland. It’s been a long season but this caps it off. We’ll enjoy the week and hopefully the weather gets a little bit better.”
The 65th edition of the Tour of Southland continues until Saturday with eight stages across the province.
Riders face Stage 2, sponsored by the Southland District Council, from Invercargill to Lumsden.