The weather forecast predicted 130k gusts of Norwesterlys – we got it and the race was turned on it’s head.
Myself and Smalls (Ian Smallman), the senior ‘statemen’ in the Subway Pro Cycling team prepared ourselves for a battle at the start with a little warm up to get our old legs moving. And it was windy! Even a local called it – the windiest he’s ever seen. But this is the Tour of Southland and nothing too out of the ordinary. On the scale of being blown off the road/how deep a rim can you ride – I didn’t see anyone blown off the road and there were plenty of deepish rims. I’ve seen worse down here.
Sure enough though the pele’ split in the first 20k. From memory, a memory that gets a little stretched from fatigue and long bike races, I made the first split of 12, broke away with Chris Macic (Share the Road) and Dan Barry (Node 4 Subaru), got caught by the next split, this time a group of about 16, then watched Roly (Calder Stewart) ride away with Fraser Gough (Share the Road) and Clinton Avery (Kia The Bike NZ mag), with Dan Barry bridging across soon after. What a good move I thought at the time for Barry. Damn I wish I was there.
Slowly groups rejoined us as yellow jersey Carter Jones’ waited for more of his team mates to rejoin before a chase could begin. Life in the peleton was pretty good going, although due to the racey start my normalised (average) power still read higher than yesterday’s effort in the main break. A number of teams contributed to the chase, however the four up front kept the time gap around 3-4 minutes for most of the race.
The race in the peleton started at Riversdale at ‘the’ turn (90 degrees) into a crosswind just before Riversdale. I made front group once again, which split after the little climb out of Riversdale, me on the wrong side of the split. From there it was a drag race to Gore in the tailwind. End result – Dan Barry nudged out Roly for the win; Jones remains in yellow by a slender margin of 4 seconds; and the legs are good and ready for the time trial and last stage tomorrow!