Tour of Southland 2017 wrap

I’ve just finished one of my most enjoyable (& successful from a personal & collective – as part of the PowerNet team – perspective), Tour of Southlands.  Here’s my insight as to what made it so good & a day-by-day blow of the significant events.

Overwhelmingly a good tour comes down to a good team of not only riders but also team management & support.  Our team support came directly from PowerNet employees. The whole company (the local lines company & former principal sponsor of this tour), seems to get behind us. Each day saw different employees helping out on the road; each night a different employee/spouse supplied dinner; the CEO Duncan Fea even made it to the finish up Coronet Peak.

The whole team at Powernet

This year’s saw the best illustration I’ve seen of a well-balanced team – of worker bees & a queen bee.  Our queen bee was former winner Brad Evans but this didn’t impede the rest of us from achieving our personal goals.  Interestingly, we all were on a similar (physical) level – evidenced by a winning team time trial performance which we all finished together.  

But importantly we all had different strengths exuded during the length of the tour:

  • Roman van Uden: the perennial day 1 yellow jersey holder/breakaway specialist.  Roman owns this category.  He staked his claim in the TTT to wear the yellow then backed it up with two very good days of bunch sprinting (2nd & 6th days 1 & 2) to hold onto this jersey.
  • Brad Evans: couldn’t foot it with the pure climbers up Coronet & Bluff but bided his time until the fatigue of day 5 set in & owned the race this day – taking the stage win, in doing so ending Michael Torckler’s reign in yellow.
  • Me: back to my roots with a strong individual time trial on the final day (3rd) & attacking the race winning split on the final stage.

The boys with our Pure Sports Hydration

  • Mat Ross: The Aussie that just loved to Attack! Attack! Attack! With age I’ve learnt to conserve, so given Matt could actually be my son (he’s 18 years younger), he pretty much did the opposite.  To highlight his tenaciousness for attacking he won the most combatitive rider on the Bluff stage by spending half the race off the front solo & with “Robot-Zeno” (Team Mike Greer rider Matt Zenovich).
  • Ollie Jones: riding hard & to abnormally high watts is Ollie’s game.  Unfortunately Ollie was stymied somewhat by 3 final Uni exams.  He’s just announced he’s in the final 3 of the Zwift academy/Team Dimension Data though!
  • Alex Heaney: Alex was our pure worker bee.  From spending the most time at the front to selflessly throwing his bike to Matt at the bottom of Coronet climb when Matt’s derailleur broke – Alex was the one selfless rider in the team from start to finish.

Heaney & his beautiful Specialized Allez

As far as a day by day account – here’s a summary:

Day 1: TTT Invercargill 1 lap of Queens Park (4.2k): We did everything not to lose rather than everything to win.

Teams GC, Yellow, Silver & (U23) Pink jersey after the TTT

Day 2: Invercargill to Lumsden (170k): Roman in yellow, Matt in U23 leader (pink), me in O35 leader’s jersey (silver).  I honed my technique of ‘surfing the moves’ (a wise old man’s way of conserving as much energy in the peloton while staying at the front).  We had a little cross wind to finish, which split the bunch to a lead group of 30.  Superb strength & move by Michael Torckler in the final kilometers to win.

Day 3: Riverton to Te Anau (150k): I continued to surf the front but nothing could prepare me for the pain of the (2.5k) Blackmount climb.  Perhaps not going so hard to start would have helped! A super Taylor Gunman (1st) & Kane Richards (2nd) slipped off in the dying kilometers to take stage honours.

Day 4: Te Anau to Coronet Peak (138k): still defending yellow & silver jerseys I did as little as possible to conserve but suffered no end up Coronet – it was a warm up there.  Probably our worse day as a team as we lost both yellow & silver jerseys & Mat’s front derailleur!

Day 5: Invercargill to Bluff hill (148k): a day for Mat to shine up the road in a solo move which was joined by 2 others close to the gruelling finale for the day – the 2.5k wall above Bluff.  We retrieved two jerseys this day – Mat’s efforts up the road earned him most combatitive & I was back in silver.  Amazingly this day was super fast – a sign of things to come!

After finishing 13th up Bluff, Brad and I headed down to the bottom of NZ

Day 6: Invercargill to Gore (151k): if yesterday was fast, this was super fast – average speed was over 46kph! Team mate Brad went fishing for the right move & made winning look easy. Hats off to Team Mike Greer Homes as they rode super smart and aggressive.

Day 7: Individual Time Trial in Winton (13k): everybody was fatigued, due to the speeds from previous days, so power numbers were low! I started off a tiny bit hard as I thought riding at threshold power would be a good start – I was wrong.  However, a combination of taking the corners in the initial 4k & easing back in the first half led me to a fairly well paced TT & 3rd place.  Pretty happy with that – “not bad for an old fella” – boy if I got a dollar everytime I heard that! Team mate Mat-the-unassuming snuck in 5th place while riding around on his tops singing to the magpies.

Day 7: Winton – Invercargill (78k): I started feeling completely rinsed so was happy to let the yellow jersey team of Kia Motors control everything, until Brad and Roman ripped the field apart! The front of the race now became 20 and Brad, Zeno, myself and a few others made a point of making life difficult for what was left of Kia (yellow – James Piccoli & loyal lieutenant Taylor Gunman). Fun and games at the end, but unfortunately Brad got pipped for stage honours by the only German in the race Raphael Freienstein.

Finally I want to thank my super awesome sponsors who make life a whole lot more comfortable: Specialized Bicycles & Chain Reaction Cycles for giving me the bike, gear & keeping me on the road; Armstrong Subaru for continued vehicle sponsorship; Biomaxa & Pure for product support & St Martins New World.

Next up – Elite Nationals Time Trial in Napier!

Thanks for reading – Oddy (the old fella)