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Local lad Burnett takes Tour title

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Southland’s Josh Burnett has become the first local rider since 1994 to win the SBS Bank Tour of Southland.

Burnett (Creation Signs-MitoQ) started the final 77km stage from Winton to Invercargill with a 43sec advantage over Australian Carter Bettles (ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast), with leading Henderson Construction under 23 rider Josh Kench (Powenet) trailing by 56sec in third place.

While the pace was fast and furious in the crosswinds over the final stage, there was no denying the 22-year-old Burnett a piece of history, with those same margins remaining to the finish.

“It’s special, but I’ve said special probably a hundred times this week,” Burnett said.

“I don’t actually have the words for it yet. It’s going to take a long time to sink in.”

Ironically, the Southlander who last won the Tour of Southland, Doug Bath in 1994, also sold Burnett his first bike.

Bath was more than pleased to pass on the torch to the 22-year-old.

“Josh is such a special kid and such a special bike rider. To be honest this is a record that should have gone a long time ago. There are lots of really cool bike riders from here that have gone close in the past, but it just hasn’t worked out.”

Earlier, Burnett started the day with just an 8sec lead over Bettles, but smashed out an outstanding 13km individual time trial around Winton.

Riding just his second ever ‘race of truth’, Burnett even surprised himself.

“I knew I was going fast for me, but I had no idea how it compared to anyone else. When I crossed the line and someone told me I’d won, I didn’t think I’d heard them properly. It’s pretty surreal.”

The final stage saw the peloton reach speeds of 60kmh as they raced for home with James Krzanich (Transport Engineering Southland-Deep South), Glenn Haden (Couplands-Booths Group), Paul Odlin (Powernet) and James Harvey (Spoken Cycles) managing to sneak away and hold their lead all the way to the finish line.

Harvey claimed a sprint win in Gala St, with Krzanich winning the McLeay Jewellers Most Combative honours.

A strong finish by Burnett’s team mates saw Creation Signs-MitoQ edge ahead in the Wensley's Cycles teams classification, while Nick Kergozou (Transport Engineering Southland-Deep South) managed to hold onto the Harcourts Sprint Ace jersey by the barest of margins.

Capping a great week for Creation Signs-MitoQ, George Jackson won Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountains honours, while Joe Cooper (Central Benchmakers-Willbike) was the tour’s leading Stonewood Homes over 35 rider.

Photo credit: Studio Jubb/Tour of Southland

Local rider looking to make history on SBS Bank Tour of Southland 

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4/11/2022 - Southland’s Josh Burnett has ridden the hardest 15km of his life to put himself in with a chance of making history on the 2022 SBS Bank Tour of Southland.

The 22-year-old, riding his home tour for just the second time, could become the first Southlander to win New Zealand’s most prestigious stage race since Doug Bath in 1994.

Burnett (Creation Signs-MitoQ) was sixth across the line in today’s 151km stage from Invercargill to Gore, won by Oliver Grave (Central Benchmakers-Willbike), but crucially finished 28sec ahead of overnight leader Carter Bettles (ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast).

That leaves Burnett 8sec ahead of Bettles, and 40sec ahead of leading Henderson Construciton under 23 rider Josh Kench (Powernet) in third place, heading into tomorrow’s final two stages; a 13km individual time trial and final 77km stage from Winton to Invercargill.

After multiple attempts at breaking the race up early in the stage, a 10-strong breakaway finally managed to gain a decent advantage as the race made the right hand turn at Winton and felt a significant breeze at their back.

That was whittled down to eventual stage winner Grave, Max Campbell (Business South), Daniel Bridgwater (Base Solutions Racing) and Elliot Crowther (Quality Foods Southland) who managed to stay away as the race roared into Gore.

“That was a really long day out there, that first hour and a half the gap just never was going out,” Graves said.

“We just kept riding and riding and eventually we hit the tailwind and it started to grow. It’s pretty crazy. I’ve been eyeing up this stage for the last few years, that last climb is a lot of fun and I just always wanted to go for it.”

With time appearing to be running out on a serious challenge to Bettles’ race lead, Burnett and Ollie Jones (Powernet) managed to slip away.

“We had a few cracks early on but the wind wasn’t as strong as we thought it was going to be so we just waited and we knew there were some good climbs coming near the end,” Burnett said.

“I had a good crack near Mataura and we split it up quite a bit and then my team mate Ben (Oliver) had it pretty strung out over the top and then I just went. It was always our plan to use both me and Ben because our team mates have put us in such good positions all week and we definitely owe it to them. I just rode the hardest 15km of my life to try and get to the finish.”

Burnett now finds himself in a similar position to fellow Southlander Corbin Strong, who also had a slim lead on the penultimate day of this race in 2020 before seeing his hopes dashed in the time trial.

“What’s going to happen tomorrow is going to happen, but we’ll enjoy this moment for sure because it’s something I’ve always dreamed of,” Burnett said.

“Coming from a moutainbike background I haven’t done a lot of time trialling. Pretty much the only one was last year’s time trial in Winton. I was top 10 in that so I’m ok at it I guess and I’m probably going to go harder than I ever have, so fingers crossed it works out.”

Burnett was excited about the opportunity to defend the yellow jersey in a tour he has followed since before he could ride a bike.

“I’m going to have a lot of friends and family out there so (it’s) a little bit of pressure but a lot of excitement as well,” he said.

“We’ve seen the yellow jersey change hands many, many times in Winton, so we’ll just try our best and see what happens.”

Michael Torckler (Quality Foods Southland) leads the Stonewood Homes over 35 classification, Southland’s Nick Kergozou (Transport Engineering Southland-Deep South) retained the Harcourts Sprint Ace jersey and George Jackson (Creation Signs-MitoQ) holds the Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountain jersey.

Quality Foods Southland retained the lead in the Wensley's Cycles teams classification.

Photo credit: Studio Jubb/Tour of Southland

Bluff Hill brings the drama 

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3/11/2022 - Once again the SBS Bank Tour of Southland’s BDO Invercargill Bluff Hill stage has provided plenty of drama and helped to set up a fascinating second half to this year’s race.

On a day where the peloton was tested by the weather and rolling terrain before even starting what is arguably New Zealand cycling’s most famous climb, it was Australian Carter Bettles who managed to retain the yellow jersey, albeit with a reduced margin.

The ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast rider saw his lead over Southlander Josh Burnett (Creation Signs-MitoQ) cut by more than a minute to just 20sec after he punctured 7km before the finish and had to fight hard to limit the damage, with British rider Dan Gardner (Quality Foods Southland) taking the stage win.

“We knew that this was going to be one of the toughest stages yet,” Bettles said.

“The Kiwis love this stage, they talk about it non-stop and as you heard yesterday they were really excited for it. We knew it was going to be tough, but the boys were up for it. They were defensive right from the start, they did an excellent job and I can’t thank them enough.”

After winning the Remarkables stage yesterday, Bettles said the Bluff Hill climb deserved its reputation.

“This one is so steep. I knew from riding it the day before the race that I had to save something for the end and I just went as hard as I could to keep the deficit as small as possible.”

It was a day approaching some of the weather the tour is renowned for, with everything from sun and wind to driving rain.

The most significant break of the day featured Marcus Culey (Share the Road-Macaulay Ford), George Jackson (Creation Signs-MitoQ), Adam Chapman (Onya Bike), Ollie Jones (Powernet), Guy Yarrell and Camden Feint (Oxford Edge), and eventual winner Gardner.

Yarrell, who finished third on the stage, was rewarded with the McLeay Jewellers Most Combative jersey for his efforts in the break, and Jones was the virtual leader on the road at one point, but the main bunch never let the attackers slip the leash entirely.

The stage win continued an excellent week for the Qualify Foods Southland team, which included having Boris Clark in the yellow jersey for two days and a lead in the Wensley's Cycles teams classification after five stages.

“It was one of those days that you had to go out and get it. You had to sacrifice a lot of watts to make it stick but it was worth it,” Gardner said.

Bettles is attempting to become just the fifth foreign rider, and the first Australian since 2014, to win New Zealand’s most prestigious stage race since it began in 1956.

While the top contenders have shuffled their way out of what was a record starting field, it remains tantalisingly tight at the top, with Burnett, riding just his second Southland tour, at 20sec and leading Henderson Construction under 23 rider Josh Kench (Powernet) trailing by 32sec.

Michael Torckler (Qualify Foods Southland) leads the Stonewood Homes over 35 classification, while George Jackson, who was second to the top of Bluff Hill, took over the Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountain jersey.

Southland’s Nick Kergozou (Transport Engineering Southland-Deep South) leads the Harcourts Sprint Ace classification.

It sets up an intriguing 151km Mataura Licensing Trust stage six from Invercargill to Gore tomorrow.

“On the profile it doesn’t have a big hill or anything but you know that it’s going to be as tough as any,” Bettles said.

“I think we’ve got crosswinds for most of the day and those little pinches definitely sap the legs so it’s going to be tough and we’ll just try and defend the jersey. You can’t be too comfortable in this race, people have come from a long way back to win GC. There’s so much racing to go that you are never comfortable.”

Photo credit: Studio Jubb/Tour of Southland

Australian rider Bettles climbs into Tour lead

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2/11/2022 - Australian Carter Bettles has climbed his way into the SBS Bank Tour of Southland’s yellow jersey with an outstanding ascent of the Remarkables today.

Bettles and his ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast team, which is managed by former Tour de France rider Henk Vogels, were able to execute their plan perfectly, with Kane Richards delivering Bettles in great position and condition at the base of the skifield access road allowing him to dominate the demanding 6km climb.

At the end of the Aotearoa Gaming Trust stage four, Bettles has a 1min 21sec advantage over Southland’s Josh Burnett (Creation Signs-MitoQ), last year’s winner on the same stage, with under 23 rider Josh Kench (Powernet) a further 2sec in arrears.

Overnight leader Boris Clark has slipped to seventh place overall, nearly 3min down. 

“Today we came in with a plan, we knew it was going to be hard from the start with the crosswinds so we got the team on the front pretty early and tried to split it up, which we did successfully,” Bettles said.

“A little group went from there and luckily I had Kano there to support me, he dropped me off at the bottom and I just went full gas from there. I was hoping (the climb) would flatten off, but it never did, it just got steeper towards the top and I just had to go as hard as I could.”

The pace out of Mossburn from the stage start was exacting, with speeds up to 60kmh causing plenty of stress across the teams. Eventually a selection managed to break away with most of the top teams represented.

Approaching Queenstown a group of eight saw their 5min advantage being whittled down, but Bettles was able to advance and survive in classy fashion to the finish.

Vogels had suggested Bettles now owed Richards a beer for every kilometre he rode for the stage winner.

“We’d be up in the hundreds if I did that. Kane and I are good mates, we are from the same town in Australia, we’ve pretty much grown up racing together and it’s so awesome to be on a team together.”

While Bettles looked like he was bossing the vigorous ascent with its commanding views across the Wakatipu basin, that was not the case.

“I’m glad it looked good, because I was deep in the box from probably 3km to go. All you are trying to do is just keep going on a climb as steep as this.”

The visiting Australians, part of a development squad aimed at promoting riders into the World Tour, are now set on defending the yellow jersey for the remaining three days of the race, including tomorrow’s infamous Bluff Hill stage.

An Australian hasn’t won New Zealand’s most prestigious stage race since Mitchell Lovelock-Fay in 2014.

“It’s going to be as hard a task as there is in racing, to be honest,” Bettles said.

“The team is really happy and we are such a good group, so we’ll see what we can do.”

Today’s stage was a significant one with all classification jerseys landing on new shoulders.

Richards was rewarded with the McLeay Jewellers Most Combative jersey, Kench has a handy lead in the Henderson Construction under 23 classification over Swiss teenager Robin Donze, Michael Torckler (Quality Foods Southland) is the leading Stonewood Homes over 35 rider, James Harvey (Spoken Cycles) took over the lead in the Harcourts Sprint Ace and Southland’s Matt Zenovich is the Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountains.

Quality Foods Southland leads the Wensley's Cycles teams classification.

Tomorrow’s BDO Invercargill fifth stage starts in Invercargill and does a 154km lap through eastern Southland before finishing another hilltop finish on Bluff Hill.

Photo credit: Studio Jubb/Tour of Southland

Clark retains yellow after tough day on SBS Bank Tour of Southland

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1/11/2022 - A big day in the wind has provided a record SBS Bank Tour of Southland field with its first major test of this year’s race.

In the end it was rookie Zakk Patterson (Base Solutions Racing) who won a bunch sprint on the Te Anau lakefront, with overnight leader Boris Clark (Quality Foods Southland) retaining his slim advantage in a tight general classification.

The 148km stage from Riverton to Te Anau, over the Blackmount hill climb, saw a number of attempted breaks fail before Southland’s Matt Zenovich (Share the Road-Macaulay Ford), a previous winner on the same stage, and Daniel Bridgwater (Base Solutions Racing) made the decisive break after Tuatapere.

Riding into what was at times a block headwind, the pair managed to extend their advantage out beyond 5min and crest the Blackmount together, with Zenovich assuming the leader on the road status.

However, the peloton was able to shut the pair down after the big climb of the day, eventually reeling in Bridgwater, the final holdout and Most Combative rider, with 10km to go to set up a big sprint finish where Patterson edged out fellow under 23 rider Kiaan Watts (Powernet) and George Jackson (Creation Signs-MitoQ).

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” Patterson said.

“The plan was to get into the break and we had Dan up there, who is probably one of our strongest guys. He stayed away all day and to cap it off I got the finish, which is perfect for us.”

The result effectively retained the status quo, with Clark holding a 9sec lead over King of the Mountains leader Alex Heaney (Spoken Cycles), and leading under 23 rider Max Campbell (Business South Cycling Team) third overall at 17sec.

After three stages there is still only 42sec covering the top 10 riders.

“It was a pretty stressful day,” Clark said.

“The break got out a long way and we had to start chasing it (but) it was a pretty special day for me. I had some of my best mates working on the front for me and I had one of the most experienced bike riders in New Zealand, Michael Torckler, just talking to me and keeping me calm, telling the guys what to do. It was awesome and it worked out really well for us.”

Southland’s Nick Kergozou (Transport Engineering Southland - Deep South) leads the Sprint Ace classification, with Joe Cooper (Central Benchmakers-Willbike) leading the silver jersey standings for riders over 35 and his team mates leading the teams classification.

Clark, who is riding his fourth Southland tour, was relieved to be wearing the yellow jersey for a second night as the tour camped out in Te Anau.

“This is the first time I’ve led a race this big. I’ve done a lot of bike racing, but never been in this position. I was just glad to have someone like Mike there to keep me calm and talk me through it,” he said.

“From 20km to go it was pretty stressful, just maintaining a position and trying to avoid any crashes, making sure it didn’t split in the wind, and once I got through the 3km I knew if I punctured or crashed I’d still be in yellow with the 3km rule. To get through without losing any time was a huge relief.”

Tomorrow’s stage five is one of the shortest of the race at 108km but finishes with the hardest climb, a demanding 6km ascent of the Remarkables skifield access road.

Photo credit: Studio Jubb/Tour of Southland

Clark takes surprise lead in SBS Bank Tour of Southland

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31/10/2022 - Ohaupo rider Boris Clark was as surprised as anyone to be wearing the yellow jersey after today’s second stage of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland.

Riding in his fourth lap of the south, Clark (Quality Foods Southland) was happily preparing to collect the Most Combative jersey after being part of the breakaway and finishing third on the 166km stage from Invercargill to Lumsden, which was claimed by Australian rider Marcus Culey (Share the Road-Macaulay Ford).

Instead Clark was stoked to collect his maiden yellow jersey along with his first podium finish, especially after having to miss last year’s race due to Waikato’s regional lockdown.

‘It’s pretty special to get yellow, I just thought I was lining up for Most Combative and then got told that I was in yellow with our team time trial. I wasn’t even going to go in the break today but after about an hour I thought I’d get stuck into it,” Clark said.

“It took a long, long time for us to get away. We were sitting at 25-30sec for a long time and eventually once a few of the guys went back and the other teams realised that we weren’t quite so dangerous they let us get away. We just rode steady and everyone worked really

well together.”

The other big story of the day was the crash which involved more than 30 riders, a quarter of the field, on the way to Nightcaps.

The crash splintered the peloton across western Southland, with defending champion Michael Vink one of the riders forced to ride hard to catch up. Vink finished the stage in 92nd place and trails Clark by nearly 10 minutes.

Culey, who has previously ridden the Tour of Southland in 2015 and 2018, won a four-man sprint up the main street of Lumsden, with Alex Heaney (Spoken Cycles) second, Clark third and Max Campbell (Business South) finishing fourth to jump up to third overall and the race’s leading under 23 rider.

“It was super tough,” Culey said.

“In the last hour I think everyone was in a world of hurt, there were a lot of guys cramping and I managed to keep it together for the sprint and so I’m happy with that.”

Heaney also moved ahead in the King of the Mountain classification, with Southlander Nick Kergozou (Transport Engineering Southland - Deep South) the race’s Sprint Ace.

Michael Torckler (Quality Foods Southland) has shifted into the lead in the Silver Jersey for riders over 35 after Glenn Haden missed the break.

Overnight leader Ben Oliver trails Clark by 31sec, with 42sec covering the top 10 riders.

Clark said he and the team will look to reassess after such a successful stage.

“We’ll have to have a chat about that tonight, we didn’t really expect to be in this position. We were going to wait until we got to the Remarkables…but now we are in this position we’ll have a chat and see what we’ll do.”

Tomorrow’s third stage takes the field 148km from Riverton to Te Anau, including the Blackmount hill climb.

Comm Games mountainbike medalllist rides into SBS Bank Tour of Southland yellow jersey

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30/10/2022 - Commonwealth Games silver medallist Ben Oliver has earned first use of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland’s yellow jersey after an impressive ride on day one.

The 25-year-old, who finished second behind compatriot Sam Gaze in the cross country mountainbike in Birmingham earlier this year, capped an outstanding day for his Creation Signs-MitoQ team at the start of his fifth lap of the south.

After his team won their first ever 4.2km team time trial prologue around Invercargill’s Queens Park, he was able to get himself into the decisive break along with eventual winner Glenn Haden (Couplands-Booths Group) during the 42km stage one street race around the same circuit.

“It’s a bit of a surprise getting the yellow on day one, but I can’t complain, what a way to end the afternoon,” Oliver said.

“We just had to be aware of who was going up the road and made sure that we followed the moves. I got myself into a pretty solid one with (Matt Zenovich) and Glenn and a few of the other boys. We got a decent gap, went for the time bonus sprints and we held it to the line, so happy with the way it played out.”

Haden has been a prominent rider in the silver classification for riders over 35 years of age during recent Southland tours, but was ecstatic to take a stage victory.

“This is a dream come true. A few of the boys have been saying to me that this year I should just have a go and that’s what I did,” he said.

While Oliver has been a mainstay of the MitoQ-NZ Cycling Project stable as a mountainbiker, he’s excited to get another chance to join his team mates on skinny tyres.

“It’s my first road race with (the team) this year, they’ve been over in America smashing it out while I’ve been on the mountainbike circuit. The boys had three months overseas showing what they can do and now I’ve joined them for the biggest race of the year,” the Rangiora native said.

“To get the team time trial is always special, what a way to start the tour. We are just going to go all out, it will be more of the same tomorrow. 

Oliver, who holds a 7sec lead over second-placed Haden overall, should feel at home for at least part of tomorrow’s 166km second stage from Invercargill to Lumsden, which features a testing gravel hillclimb over the Glenure Hill.

It’s the same stage that eventual winner Michael Vink, who is gunning for a fourth title in five years, stamped his mark on last year’s race.

The 2023 SBS Bank Tour of Southland is celebrating its 66th edition and continues through until Saturday, November 5.

Big field back for 66th edition of SBS Bank Tour of Southland

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25/10/2022 - After two Covid-affected years a strong 21-team field will assemble for this week’s SBS Bank Tour of Southland.

New Zealand cycling’s longest-running and most prestigious stage race welcomes back riders from across the country and the globe in 2022, something race director Sally Marr is excited and relieved about.

“The SBS Bank Tour of Southland isn’t just an iconic New Zealand bike race, riders tell stories about it around the world so it’s great that we are finally able to welcome everyone back in 2022,” Marr said.

“It has been a challenge for everyone concerned to keep this race going during the pandemic, so it will be great to have the racing front and centre again. This is a race which has developed plenty of resilience since it started in 1956 and I can’t wait to get started.

Defending champion Michael Vink returns to the south looking to win a fourth Southland title in the past five years.

The Cantabrian has been a commanding force since his breakthrough win in 2018 and will be supported by a strong Transport Engineering Southland-Deep South team.

A fourth win would see Vink draw level with Hayden Roulston’s four victories from 2006 to 2010, although it is still some way off Brian Fowler’s record eight crowns.

Much interest will focus on the impact of Australian team ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast, part of the Australian Cycling Academy’s not-for-profit development programme.

The team, which will be managed by former Tour de France rider Henk Vogels, is one of two UCI Continental teams competing in this year’s tour, along with the Creation Signs-MitoQ squad which has been the long-running project of Southlander James Canny.

That squad produced a successful campaign in the United States during the New Zealand winter and will again feature New Zealand representative George Jackson, outstanding Southland rider Josh Burnett, who won the Queen stage on debut at last year’s Tour of Southland, and Commonwealth Games silver medal-winning mountainbiker Ben Oliver.

The Share the Road-Macaulay Ford team features hard-hitting local Matt Zenovich, while former national road champion Joseph Cooper is riding for Central Benchmakers-Willbike.

Multisport athletes also feature in the peloton, including Coast to Coast combatants Sam Clark and Sam Manson.

Adding to the international flavour are United States-based Southlander Elliot Crowther, British rider Dan Gardner and Swiss teenager Robin Donze.

The 66th edition of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland gets underway on Sunday, October 30, with a 4.2km team time trial prologue and opening 42km stage, both contested around Invercargill’s Queens Park.

The first open road stage, a tough 166km journey from Invercargill to Lumsden, will again feature a gravel section, one of eight stages before the race finishes back in Invercargill on November 5.

Vink secures third SBS Bank Tour of Southland title

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6/11/21 - Cantabrian Michael Vink has ridden his way into New Zealand cycling’s history books on the final day of the 2021 SBS Bank Tour of Southland.

The 29-year-old broke a course record on the penultimate stage of the race’s 65th edition before being safely delivered by his Transport Engineering Southland-Talley’s team mates into Invercargill’s Gala St at the end of a 77km final stage from Winton to bank his third Southland win in the past four years.

He now joins an illustrious group including Tino Tabak, Warwick Dalton, Brian Fowler and Hayden Roulston who have also won New Zealand’s most prestigious stage race three or more times.

“I don’t consider myself to be like any one of those guys,” Vink said.

“I grew up idolising guys like Hayden Roulston and I was lucky enough to ride with him a few times on this tour. Hopefully I can pass on what I’ve learnt the way those guys did.”

Vink’s win was built on a superb solo ride into a head wind on Monday when he left his rivals behind over the final 15km of the race’s longest stage.

“I think we were the hot favourites from day one and to finish it off for me and for all the boys and the sponsors, it’s the best way to repay them, by taking the win,” he said.

“I was in two minds about leading so early because I knew I had the best legs in the race, but I also knew I had a big target on my back. It was difficult to manage but I had to have confidence in myself and the team.”

After losing last year’s race on the final stage, Vink’s winning margin was 3min 42sec from Luke Mudgway, with Logan Currie third overall.

Vink underlined a dominant week by breaking the record for the stage seven 13km individual time trial, taking 20sec off the mark set by Hamish Bond in 2018.

“It was a bit of a personal thing. I feel like I haven’t really had a chance to show my legs this week apart from that first day. I’ve been doing a lot of defensive riding and that’s not normally how I like to ride so I wanted to put on a bit of a show in the time trial.”

While disappointed not to defend the title they won with Aaron Gate last year, Bolton Equities Black Spoke Pro Cycling finished the week strongly with Campbell Stewart adding a win in the final stage to his victory in the street race and the team’s win in the team time trial.

Team mate Logan Currie produced a strong performance in the individual time trial to overtake Bailey O’Donnell and claim the under 23 classification, while James Fouche was the King of the Mountains.

George Jackson (Creation Signs-MitoQ) was rewarded for a strong week in the saddle with the Sprint Ace jersey, with his team mate Paul Wright the Most Combative rider on the final stage.

Hamish Keast was the first Southlander across the line on the final stage, and Josh Burnett, who won the Remarkables stage on Wednesday and was second on the Bluff Hill stage the following day, was the leading Southlander overall, finishing in 10th place in his Southland debut.

Vink breaks time trial record to line up third tour title

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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
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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 SouthlandSport.com. 

“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.”