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.”