Vink breaks time trial record to line up third tour title


6/11/21 - Canterbury’s Michael Vink has produced a blistering individual time trial in Winton to set himself up for a third win in four years at the SBS Bank Tour of Southland.

Vink (Transport Engineering Southland-Talley’s) completed the 13km stage around the central Southland township in a record time of 15min 31sec, the only rider to go under 16min.

Vink’s ride smashed Hamish Bond’s time of 15min 51sec set in 2018.

Logan Currie (Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling) rode his way into the lead in the under 23 classification with a 16min 17sec lap to be second on the stage, with leading over 35 rider Glenn Haden (Team Couplands) third in 16min 18sec.

Vink now has just a 77km stage from Invercargill to Winton standing between him and a third Southland crown. He would join Tino Tabak, Warwick Dalton, Brian Fowler and Hayden Roulston as riders who have won New Zealand’s most prestigious bike race three or more times.

This afternoon’s final stage starts at 1.30pm and is scheduled to finish in Invercargill’s Gala St at 3pm.

Fouché takes stage as Vink on verge of third tour title


5/11/21 - A third SBS Bank Tour of Southland victory is tantalisingly close for Cantabrian Michael Vink.

The 29-year-old, who rode away from his rivals on the first open road stage on Monday to set the tone for the week, holds a 1min 52sec lead over his closest rival heading into the final two legs of New Zealand’s most prestigious bike race.

Ahead of him is a 13km individual time trial at Winton, a stage he’s won multiple times before, and the final nervous 77km stage from Winton to Invercargill.

“It’s really nice to know that my favourite stage is coming up,” Vink said of the time trial.

“I’d love to finish it off with a stage win on the last day of the tour, but it’s just about getting through and ticking boxes and bringing the jersey home.”

After twice finishing runner-up, Vink finally broke through to win his Southland crowns in 2018 and 2019. He also lost the jersey to Aaron Gate on the final stage last year after starting the last leg with a 1sec lead.

The prospect of joining an illustrious group which includes Tino Tabak, Brian Fowler and Hayden Roulston as riders who have won three or more Tours of Southland was something Vink has been trying not to get too caught up in.

“It’s hard not to, to be honest, but I’m certainly not going to start counting my chickens,” he said.

“I know better than most people that anything can happen in this tour and it’s never over until you are in Gala St.”

The peloton again threw everything it had at Vink and his Transport Engineering Southland-Talley’s team mates on the 151km sixth stage from Invercargill to Gore.

A strong selection including James Fouche (Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling), George Jackson (Creation Signs-MitoQ), Matt Zenovich (Share the Road-Macaulay Ford), Guy Yarrell (Oxford Edge) and Cameron Jones (Onya Bike) finally managed to stay away after a series of surges.

They built a lead of over 2min before Fouche broke up the party on the Glendhu climb, taking his chance at a stage win.

“It was a pretty fast day out,” Fouche said.

“We had a fast start and we were trying to chuck a few boys in the breakaway and try to light it up towards the end, but it ended up that the breakaway stayed away, which was good for me and good for the boys. We had a good strong bunch of blokes up the road with me. I whacked them with about 20km to go and was able to just hold them off so it was a good day out.”

Fouche has held both the King of the Mountain and Sprint Ace jerseys at the same time this week, and is eager to retain the former. Toppling Vink on the final day is also on the radar of the Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling squad.

“Our main goal was to win the overall obviously and whatever we can get as well as that is a bonus.”

Ollie Jones (PowerNet) trails Vink by 1min 52sec, with Luke Mudgway (Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling) at 2min 21sec and leading under 23 rider Bailey O’Donnell at 2min 35sec.

O’Donnell is protecting a 25sec lead in the pink jersey over noted time trialler Logan Currie, making for some fascinating racing on the final day.

Glenn Haden (Team Couplands) has a 3min lead in the over 35 classification, with Jackson in the Sprint Ace jersey and Fouche in the King of the Mountain shirt and only one climb remaining.

Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling leads the teams classification.

Pithie claims second stage win on SBS Bank Tour of Southland


4/11/21 - Another superb performance from Campbell Pithie was the highlight of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland’s historic Bluff Hill stage as leader Michael Vink’s rivals begin to run out of chances to deny him a special place in the race’s history.

Pithie, who produced a remarkable solo breakaway victory to win stage three on Tuesday and was prominent again on the way to Queenstown on Wednesday, climbed brilliantly up the steep incline of Motu Pōhue to win stage five of New Zealand’s most prestigious bike race.

“It was another tough day, a very tactical day,” the 22-year-old said.

There have been some outstanding performances from some of New Zealand’s best up-and-coming riders this week, including the likes of Pithie, stage four winner Josh Burnett, George Jackson, Bailey O’Donnell and Logan Currie.

Two others who deserve a mention were in the early break on the 154km stage from Invercargill to Bluff, with Callum Nisbet (Team Couplands) and Kiaan Watts (PowerNet) joined by Andrew Hagan (ITM), the trio getting out past 2min on the southern beat to Glenham.

Under blazing blue skies and with relatively benign wind, it was up to the riders to make the stage hard.

Vink’s Transport Engineering Southland-Talley’s team were being asked a lot of questions at the front of the peloton, particularly by the Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling squad, who splintered the race around the well known Letterbox Hill climb.

The decisive break then included Pithie, Nisbet (initally), Luke Mudgway and Xander White (Business South).

Nisbet was dropped at Gorge Road and White fell away on the arc towards Bluff, leaving Mudgway to try and take time out of Vink and Pithie in an ideal position to take the stage.

That’s just what he did, with Southlander Burnett (Creation Signs-MitoQ) coming forward to take second place on the stage and Mudgway third.

“Luke was driving really hard for his GC ambitions and I made the most of that for that stage win,” Pithie said.

“I was suffering, and the boys can catch up really quick, but it was a hard day for everyone so I knew they were suffering behind me. I’ve got a great team with Mike Greer Homes-Circuit Asphalt, we are all getting on really well so it was good to do it for the team.”

If Vink, who won in 2018 and 2019, can continue to control the race the Cantabrian will become just the fourth rider to win the Tour of Southland three or more times, joining Tino Tabak, Brian Fowler and Hayden Roulston in an exclusive club.

With a 1min 52sec lead over Ollie Jones (PowerNet) and 2min 21sec advantage over Mudgway, perhaps the final opportunity to upset him will come in the 151km stage six from Invercargill to Gore.

“I haven’t had to ride too much myself yet, and it’s when I have to do that that things start to get a bit dangerous and I start to panic a bit,” he said.

“Because that stage is so late in the tour it’s a chance for a Hail Mary. It’s definitely a stage where the lead has changed in the past, but I’m aware of what’s happened and we’ll be ready for it.”

Stage five saw O’Donnell (Oxford Edge) extend his lead in the under 23 classification, while Glenn Haden now leads by 2min 10sec in the over 35 category. Jackson (Creation Signs-MitoQ) leads the Sprint Ace classification, while Pithie has now climbed his way into the King of the Mountain jersey. Nisbet was the Most Combative rider on the stage and Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling lead the teams classification.

The seven-day, eight stage SBS Bank Tour of Southland finishes in Invercargill’s Gala St on Saturday afternoon.

Burnett cliams Tour of Southland stage win in home race


3/11/21 - A spectacular climb by local rider Josh Burnett lit up stage four of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland as Michael Vink tightened his hold on the yellow jersey at the midway stage of this year’s race.

Burnett (Creation Signs-MitoQ) has been following his home tour since he was five years old but even during a practise ride of the Remarkables a couple of weeks ago he never dreamed he could win a stage on debut.

In fact, it was only when he finally crossed the finish line after a gruelling 6km climb up the Remarkables at the end of a 101km stage from Mossburn that he was able to start taking it all in.

“The whole race is so special to people from Southland, I just can’t quite believe that I’ve done it,” the 21-year-old said.

“My parents have been helping out with this race since I was five years old and when you go to an Invercargill primary school you know all about the Tour of Southland. Coming around the corner I knew I couldn’t take a guy as classy as Vink to the corner so I just had to go for it and I managed to hold on.”

A national cyclocross and under 23 mountainbike champion, Burnett was able to ride away from Vink (Transport Engineering Southland-Talley’s), who would finish second on the stage, and Max Meffan (BJ Carter Builders and Insulators) who was third.

Earlier in the stage a breakaway of 19 riders kept the peloton on task but was too widely represented to be given much freedom.

When they were captured in the shadows of Queenstown’s breathtaking Remarkables mountain range, only a small group emerged to challenge for the stage, with Burnett making his move at the midway point and holding his nerve to the finish.

Looking to claim a third Southland crown in the space of four years, Vink’s disappointment at missing out on a stage win was tempered by the fact he was able to take significant time out of all his main rivals.

“It’s such a tough climb - the stage is quite short but it’s a hard run through the Devil’s Staircase and then a steep climb to the finish. It’s a stage where you can’t really hide and it’s usually won by the best guy and the best guy won today,” he said.

“It would have been really nice to finish off with a stage win for the boys but you’ve got to think bigger picture. I’ve got good legs, which is the key thing. Josh was better, but in terms of the GC we are still on track.”

Vink now leads by 1min 43sec over Ollie Jones (PowerNet), with Bailey O’Donnell (Oxford Edge) climbing up to third place overall at 2min 19sec and the lead in the under 23 classification.

“I think based on my first day’s effort I had no friends after that,” Vink said.

“Often when you’ve got a big lead or you show your cards early it can go against you a wee bit and everyone works against you. You expect that and you’ve got to take it as a compliment, it’s the right thing to do and the race is on, it’s exciting and that’s good.”

George Jackson (Creation Signs-MitoQ) was rewarded for a strong week so far with the Sprint Ace jersey, while James Fouche (Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling) has a slim lead in the King of the Mountains standings.

Glenn Haden (Team Couplands) continues to lead the over 35 classification, while Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling leads the team classification.

Southland’s Josh Haggerty (PowerNet) had a good day in the break and was named Most Combative for the stage.

Things don’t get any easier on stage five, with a 154km trip from Invercargill finishing with the storied Bluff Hill climb.

“Bluff tends to be the hardest stage on the tour depending on the weather,” Vink said.

“It’s important that the team and I recover well and be ready for anything.”

Stunning solo ride earns Pithie Tour of Southland stage win


2/11/21 - Cantabrian Campbell Pithie has produced one of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland’s best solo victories in recent memory to take out stage three into Te Anau today.

The Mike Greer Homes-Circuit Asphalt rider broke away with more than half of the 142km stage from Riverton to Te Anau still remaining and managed to hold off the chasing pack comfortably into the lakefront finish.

“It was a long day. It was a bit windy to start with and we knew the cross winds were going to be along the coast,” Pithie, who started the day almost seven minutes behind tour leader Michael Vink, said.

“It was actually pretty calm for the first 25km and I thought the initial break was just going to go away but on one of the climbs one of the Black Spoke boys put it in the gutter and it split the peloton. We rode up to the break away and no one was really working so I decided I’d give it a nudge and try and get a gap over Blackmount.”

Pithie led by as much as six minutes as he headed over the Blackmount hill climb and went on to a 1min 20sec win from Campbell Stewart and Sam Ritchie.

“They all kind of sat up and it ended up being a long day out front by myself. I knew it was meant to be tailwind through to the lake so I knew I was a shot, but it was a tough day and I’m really happy to take the win.”

Winning a stage on New Zealand’s most prestigious bike race was a special achievement, Pithie said.

“It means a lot. It’s my fifth time doing the tour and I’ve never really come close to winning a stage. This year I knew I could be in with a shout because I’ve been in good form after coming back from Europe a few months ago. I was really happy to take this one today.”

The early break featured Joel Yates (Bolton Equities-Black Spoke Pro Cycling), George Jackson and Josh Burnett (Creation Signs-MitoQ), Callum Nisbet (Team Couplands), Matt Zenovich (Share the Road-Macaulay Ford) and Dougal Allan (Mike Greer Homes-Circuit Asphalt) and they were able to get out by over one minute before the stage changed shape. 

Vink (Transport Engineering Southland-Talley’s) had a relaxed finish protected by his team mates in the main bunch and retained the yellow jersey heading into tomorrow’s 108km stage from Mossburn to Queenstown, which finishes with a breathtaking 6km climb up the Remarkables.

“Luckily we had four guys up there and we weren’t really under too much pressure. To see Campbell Pithie win the stage was great - it’s been a long time coming and it was great to see a longtime friend of mine pull off the victory like that.”

Vink, who has won the Southland tour twice in the past three years, leads Currie by 34sec, with Olympic silver medalist Campbell Stewart 42sec behind.

Transport Engineering Southland-Talley’s have taken over the team classification standings, with Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling’s James Fouche retaining both the King of the Mountain and Sprint Ace jerseys and his team mate Currie holding onto the under 23 jersey.

Glenn Haden (Team Couplands) continued his duel with Paul Odlin (PowerNet) for the over 35 classification and kept the silver jersey for another day, while Pithie was also deservedly rewarded with Most Combative honours.

Two time champion Vink takes stage 2 and yellow


1/11/21 - Two-time champion Michael Vink has made a major claim for a third title on stage two of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland.

The Cantabrian was quick to thank his Transport Engineering Southland-Talley’s team mates after a challenging 172km stage from Invercargill to Lumsden which featured two gravel sections for the first time.

“Everyone was talking about the gravel and luckily my team have got quite a lot of experience with that stuff. We made a good plan, everyone was on the same page and had a job. Everyone played their role to perfection and at the end of the day we got the stage win so it couldn’t have gone any better,” he said.

“(The gravel) is tough on the equipment and the body, but it also suits me so well. It’s great to mix up the race and keep it exciting. I think everyone was sensible and that’s the key to making it work.”

Vink’s mountainbiking background was a bonus during the gravel beats, the second of which was a 5km grind up the Glenure hill, but it was his time trial ability which came to the fore as he attacked from the front group into a block head win over the final 15km into Lumsden.

Earlier in the stage, a breakaway including Mitchell Fitzsimons (PowerNet), James Fouche (Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling), James Harvey (Transport Engineering Southland-Talley’s), Frenchman Raphael Amouroux (Business South) and Liam Cappel (Team Couplands) set the tone for the stage.

Cappel was desperately unlucky to puncture twice on the first grave section as the peloton broke apart in the windy conditions.

After climbing over the Glenure hill, the remaining escapees were hauled in by a chasing bunch including Vink and Campbell Stewart, but it was Vink who had the horsepower to solo his way up the main street of Lumsden.

Logan Currie was second on the stage to hold the under 23 jersey, with Keegan Hornblow third.

Vink, who finally broke through to win Southland crowns in 2018 and 2019 was comfortable with the responsibility of wearing the yellow jersey for tomorrow’s 148km stage three from Riverton to Te Anau.

He has a 12sec lead over Currie, with Hornblow at 22sec and Stewart at 29sec.

“Any time you can take the yellow is a good thing, especially in this race. It’s so windy and tough that I like to be on the front and have the boys on the front anyway,” he said.

“Every day is a big day. Any day can be the hardest day on the tour - even yesterday with the city race. The morale is really high in the team, everyone is having a laugh and it’s such a good vibe to be a part of.”

Fouche was rewarded for his efforts in the break with the sprint ace and King of the Mountain jerseys, while Glenn Haden continues to lead the over 35 category and Amouroux claimed the Most Combative honours.

Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling leads the team classification.

Olympian Campbell Stewart makes early mark in Southland


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.

Changes add to challenge of 2021 SBS Bank Tour of Southland


The 2021 SBS Bank Tour of Southland is drawing closer, and this year will feature some innovative new additions to this classic event.

Although it seems that the race will have to make do without international competitors yet again, last year’s edition showed that the depth of talent in New Zealand is more than sufficient to ensure a competitive and highly entertaining tour, and this year promises to be no different. 

Even successful events need to keep evolving, and this year the SBS Bank Tour of Southland will introduce a couple of new innovations, including a new stage.

One thing that has not changed this year is the title sponsor, with SBS Bank returning once again.

“We’re delighted to be the Principal Sponsor of the 2021 SBS Bank Tour of Southland, for our ninth year. The past 18 months, due to Covid-19, has created so much uncertainty around travel and events.  This makes the amazing effort from the whole team to remain focussed and demonstrate their unwavering commitment to the SBS Bank Tour of Southland this year even more special! We’re looking forward to welcoming volunteers, riders and teams to our beautiful Southland province once again,” said SBS Group CEO Shaun Drylie.

The tour will start with the traditional Riverside Rentals team time trial around Queens Park on Sunday 31 October, but this will take place in the morning, to be followed by a new street race of 42km, comprising ten laps of Queens Park. This will bring more racing into the heart of Invercargill, promising a great spectacle for spectators, should alert levels allow.

The new stage will also draw a new sponsor to the race, with The Langlands Hotel stepping in as stage sponsor.

“The timing around the new leg being introduced when we are just completing our beautiful new hotel couldn’t be better and we are delighted to extend our involvement with this prestigious international event. Congratulations to Sally and the Tour of Southland team and best of luck to the riders; we can’t wait to cheer them on,” said Angee Shand, ILT Marketing and Innovation Executive.

Although the Southland District Council second stage will have its traditional start in Invercargill and finish in Lumsden, what comes in between is anything but traditional, as the route takes riders over a couple of gravel sections, including a challenging gravel climb. This marks the first foray onto gravel roads for the tour, with Race Director Sally Marr saying the time was right for the introduction of gravel riding to the event.

“Gravel has become part of mainstream cycling, from classic races in Europe to the rise of gravel racing, and with an abundance of great gravel roads in Southland, it brings additional interest and challenge to the race,” she said.

The rest of the race will follow a traditional pattern, with the Distinction Hotels stage three taking riders from Riverton to Te Anau, while the Aotearoa Gaming Trust stage four sees the return of the iconic climb up The Remarkables as riders make their way from Lumsden to finish on its fearsome slopes. The BDO Invercargill stage five will take riders from Invercargill, via a less than direct route to the top of Bluff Hill, before the Mataura Licensing Trust stage six takes riders on a tricky stage from Invercargill to Gore. The final day of the tour again features a double stage, starting with the McConachie Shearing individual time trial in Winton, and concluding with the Ascot Park Hotel stage eight from Winton to Invercargill, finishing with circuits around Queens Park, and the crowning of the 2021 SBS Bank Tour of Southland champion.


Photo credit: James Jubb

2019 NEWS


Stage 7 - Vink Goes back to back winning the 2019 SBS Bank Tour of Southland

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.

Stage 6 - Vink leads Tour into final stage

Defending champion Michael Vink will take a handy lead into the final stage of the 2019 SBS Bank Tour of Southland.

Stage 5 - Vink rides his way into strong position at SBS Bank Tour of Southland

Defending champion Michael Vink has put himself within grasp of a second SBS Bank Tour of Southland title after a stunning ride by his Placemakers team on the penultimate day of the race’s 63rd edition.

Stage 4 - Another impressive climb by Mexican rider in the 2019 SBS Bank Tour of Southland

Mexcican rider Eder Frayre has produced a second impressive climbing performance as the 2019 SBS Bank Tour of Southland’s yellow jersey settles a little more securely onto his shoulders.

Stage 3 - Mexican rider makes history on the SBS Bank Tour of Southland

The 2019 SBS Bank Tour of Southland’s first Mexican rider has made an emphatic statement at the midway point of this year’s race. Kia Motors-Ascot Park Hotel rider Eder Frayre holds a 28sec lead over Southland’s Corbin Strong, with defending champion Michael Vink trailing by 33sec after today’s Queen stage, the 138km beat from Mossburn to the top of Coronet Peak, near Queenstown.

Stage 2 - World champion adds SBS Bank Tour of Southland yellow jersey to his collection

World omnium champion Cambell Stewart has sprinted his way into the yellow jersey in his debut SBS Bank Tour of Southland.

Stage 1 - Plowright claims yellow on opening road stage

The 2019 SBS Bank Tour of Southland’s opening road stage has provided a genuine test for the 108-rider field. Australian teenager Jensen Plowright eventually took stage honours in a select sprint down the main street of Lumsden after a challenging 170km stage, the longest of this year’s race.

Prologue - Placemakers make confident start to title defence

Defending champion Michael Vink’s Placemakers team has put the rest of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland peloton on notice with a confident display in today’s prologue in stunning conditions in Invercargill.

La'chlan Robertson ready for his first Tour of Southland

You can be forgiven if at first glance you struggle to pick out the young pup of the 2019 Tour of Southland.

At close to two metres tall La'chlan Robertson can be opposing looking figure on the bike.

The reality though, Robertson is just 18-years-old and is one of the youngest to sign on for this year's SBS Tour of Southland. Arguably New Zealand's most prestigious and gruelling road cycling race.

It was only in March this year when Robertson started to take road cycling seriously. He switched his focus from the track to the road after just missing qualification for the Junior World Track Cycling Championships.

Robertson acknowledges this year's Tour, which starts with the team time trial on Sunday, will be a learning experience for him.

Although he doesn't plan to just go along for the ride during the seven days and be content with finishing.

"I want to be active during the race, not just sitting in the bunch rolling around for 900kms. That's not racing. 

"I'd rather go out attacking and not finish than sit in the bunch and finish 110th on [general classification]. That's just not how I ride.

"I will be looking to be active if a few of the stages. The Bluff and Coronet Peak stages might tough, ridding up hills doesn't go well for me."

The Southern Institute of Technology student was initially eyeing a place in a New Zealand performance hub team put together by Cycling New Zealand, however the team was withdrawn.

"It was really unfortunate because we had some really good guys in our team, we had junior world champions and it would have been a solid team."

It meant Robertson went searching for plan B and he landed it through a spot in the SiS-Santini-WA team - a team made up of five Western Australia riders, and Southland's Robertson. 

Robertson didn't want the Tour of Southland to be his first big elite stage race which prompted the trip to New Caledonia.

The Academy Southland programme athlete returned to Invercargill this week after taking part in the Tour of New Caledonia.

Leading French amateur riders, as well as a professional team from Italy, took part in the tour and Robertson was thrilled with a sixth-place finish on the final stage of the tour.

It ticked off a quest for a 10th place finish, a goal which he now concedes was ambitious.

"It is was a real big step up for me. When I got over there I thought, 'oh, I've overestimated with my goals'. But I think in the end it was a good learning experience and got that top 10 in the final stage."

The 36 degree-plus heat he had to contend with in New Caledonia is expected to much different to the race conditions he has ahead of him Southland.

Eighteen teams with just over 100 riders will take part in this year's Tour.

It starts with the 4.2km team time trial around Queens Park in Invercargill on Sunday at 4.30pm, with the last team scheduled to depart at 4.48pm.

On Monday the riders will race from Invercargill to Lumsden, via Tuatapere and Winton.

The Tour of Southland winner will be crowned on the seventh and final stage on Saturday when riders race from Winton to Queens Park in Invercargill.



Big boots to fill for newly appointed SBS Tour of Southland director
Sally Marr-edited

Outgoing Cycling Southland president Reece McDonald admits to both nerves and excitement as one of Southland's most prestigious sporting events gets a new leader.

Cycling Southland has appointed Sally Marr (nee Hayes) as the organisation's new major events co-ordinator, with her key task being the role of SBS Tour of Southland race director.

Marr will take over from Bruce Ross who has been at the helm of New Zealand's premier road cycling race for the past 30 years and involved for 50 years in total.

Ross will remain in charge for November's race, and will also stay on at Cycling Southland until March, which would allow a transition period for Marr who will start with Cycling Southland on September 9.

Ross has been the key figure behind the success of the Tour of Southland during the past 50 years and McDonald acknowledged the search for a replacement had been intense given the importance of the decision.

He said the process started almost 18 months ago with former Cycling Southland general manager Mark Hotton and it had continued with Nicola Wills when she stepped into the position.

"Being in charge of finding a replacement for Bruce, it's mind-numbing. We thought, 'how do you even do that'?" McDonald said.

"Bruce and the Ross family have been so important [for The Tour of Southland], it has been the Ross roadshow.

"It's a big change, it's exciting but a bit nervous as well."

McDonald was delighted that they had been able to find a replacement of the calibre of Marr.

Marr previously worked at Sport Southland as an events adviser, where she also worked as an accreditation adviser for the UCI Junior World Track Cycling Champs in 2012.  

Marr then moved into the role of major events co-ordinator with Venture Southland.

She has been assistant race director for Challenge Wanaka for the last three years and course manager for Ironman NZ for the last year.

Marr has recently worked in Canterbury as Netball Mainland's events and business relationship manager at Netball Mainland.

Marr will become the Tour's first female race director which comes a short time after Cycling Southland appointed a female general manager in Wills.

The appointments came at a time when Sport NZ had been vocal about its desire to have more females in sporting leadership roles.

McDonald said it did align to what Sport NZ was pushing for but he added the appointment of Marr and Wills was because they were standouts for the job.

Meanwhile, McDonald will stand down from the Cycling Southland president's role at its next board meeting on Monday, although he will remain on the board.

Article courtesy Stuff


50 years in the making - the legend of Tour director Bruce Ross

In the lexicon of cycling, Bruce Ross will do one final ‘lap on the front’ as race director for the 2019 SBS Bank Tour of Southland before sitting in the back of the bunch for future races. 

It’s the end of an era. Bruce remembers watching stage finishes in Bluff as a young child, he joined the tour as a judge in 1970, began his role as race director in 1985 and will step away after November having completed what he calls a 50-year ‘apprenticeship’. 

But Bruce is adamant that the show will go on. All the elements that have helped knit the tour into the fabric of our community remain intact, ready for a fresh set of eyes to build on what is considered New Zealand’s most prestigious stage race. 

“It’s time to hand over the reins to a suitable successor,” Bruce told 

“I have seen many changes throughout my involvement with the event, having seen the tour evolve initially from a three-day event through to its present day standing as a seven-day race. Throughout this time, the tour has seen the development of many outstanding champions, with current international riders such as George Bennett, Dion Smith and Jack Bauer, plus many others, all having learnt their trade at the Tour of Southland.” 

Cycling Southland general manager Nicola Wills said maintaining and building on the success of the tour was a priority for the organisation. 

“Ensuring continuity and the future success of the iconic Tour of Southland is paramount,” she said. 

“Cycling Southland is currently finalising the succession plan for the Race Director role and will be announcing very shortly the details of that process.” 

Bruce plans to join the large group of volunteers upon which the tour relies. 

“The tour will continue to be successful long into the future. It receives excellent support throughout the region and I am confident that the relationships which have been developed between Cycling Southland and the community over many years will ensure the event’s ongoing success. 

“I believe that the community is extremely proud of this iconic event and want it to continue to be successful. The fact that I’m finishing as race director does not mean the Tour of Southland will lose any of its lustre or professionalism – new personnel can bring new ideas and I would certainly welcome and encourage that.” 

SBS Bank GM Development Phil Jamieson was full of praise for the work that Bruce had undertaken in developing the Southland-based race into such an iconic event of national and international importance. 

“The 2019 race will be the seventh that we’ve been the naming rights sponsor for. Since getting involved in 2013, we’ve watched it grow in popularity to the point that there’s no doubt it’s the best multi-stage cycle race in the country.  

“Our partnership with Cycling Southland is a key plank of our Southland community relations programme and we’re looking forward to seeing how it continues to evolve in the future,” he said. 

“The race is closely connected to our goals of promoting wellness through being active, as well as connecting with the wider Southland community.” 

Those involved in the tour understand the role that Bruce’s family has played. 

“I have been extremely fortunate to have had such a supportive family who have assisted me greatly throughout my tenure as race director, without this support I would not have been able to continue for the time that I have,” Bruce said. 

“I stopped short of having ‘mandatory tour assistance’ written into our wedding vows, but Pam has been understanding and always been there as my right-hand person. Twin daughters Suzanne and Amy have grown up with the Tour of Southland and began helping from the time they could walk. They provide outstanding support and, while their roles may change, I am sure they will continue to assist in some manner. 

“We’ve made some minor changes for this year’s course due to logistical reasons. The course we’ve used for the past couple of years is a very good one. It’s provides opportunities for different styles of riders and has produced close finishes, with the result often in the balance on the final stage into Gala St. As a race director and promoter, you can’t ask for more than that.”