- Cycling News
November 07, 2011, 3:59 GMT,
November 07, 2011, 4:27 GMT
Ready for some soul-soothing before things ramp up again for 2012
Southland done and dusted and to be honest I’m feeling a little bit lost
Coming in to Invercargill on the last stage of the tour I was watching the kms count down and suddenly I realized I had 1 km of my 2011 season to go.
Looking back and thinking about what a good year it’s been, the Southland Tour was a really good way to go out.
I made some moves on the day up Crown Range but my lack of form was exposed and the best I could muster was 4th after Roulston pulled out. I was in 3rd overall behind my boy Josh Atkins and Paddy Bevin.
I completely lost the plot the next day on the way to Gore however. I just wasn't strong enough. The race blew to pieces in the cross winds and I couldn’t ride across to get to the groups to the front. I must have been on a bad day as well because I was calling grupetto when some guys still managed to get to the front.
My legs have run out of power and my heart rate just isn’t moving anymore. I rode a miserable 160km in the laughing group in the strongest winds. I was one grumpy bastard that day, luckily my team mates were there to keep me company, 25 minutes behind the front we rolled in.
As if that wasn't bad enough we woke up the next morning to snow and sleet. We were down to 4 riders in the KIA team but we knew we had to make up for the previous stage. The morning time trail was cancelled so I jumped on the rollers and warmed up hard for the shortened 75km stage back into town. From the gun I was going ‘hundys’ for the break and eventually slipped into the day’s move. The pace was super high all day but about 10km from town a small group managed to get away and I had to settle for a minor placing.
The boys were super strong and Kieran Hambrook got up for a 5th in the stage. I have to say Kieran has turned some heads this tour. He was sent home from France early this season after breaking his collar bone and has only been back training for 4 weeks and has what is known as ‘retard’ strength, it just needs to be harnessed.
That’s it from me! Again a huge thanks to everyone involved in the Tour. The amount of effort and enthusiasm that goes into this race is amazing. I’ve just spent last night shooting rifles and the morning riding motorbikes around southland farms and enjoying the world famous southern hospitality. This is a fun tour and one of the only races where every rider gets on the beers on the last night and celebrates finishing.
I’m ready to get home and spend some time soul soothing at home in Nelson before I have to get on another plane and get to Europe for December camp. Somewhere in the next 3 weeks I plan on being a normal person, have my overdue 21st ‘Lear up’ and try my hand at the gym.
Thanks again, I'll have some big news for everyone in the coming week.
- George Bennett
November 02, 2011, 5:49 GMT,
November 02, 2011, 6:20 GMT
Falling behind on the Bluff, followed by a super day to Te Anau
Well we’ve made it half way through the tour and have set up camp lakeside in Te Anau. It’s been a pretty exciting couple of days since the last blog entry partly due to terrible weather and capped off today with a team stage win.
Stage 2 recap - Invercargill - Bluff
Bluff hill was a disappointment for us all. We put a man in the break and I got a very easy ride all the way to the hill but the cold wet conditions got the better of me and all I could manage was a 5th place.
I hit the hill in a good position but couldn’t get any traction on the hill so was forced to ride in the saddle the whole way up the 18% hill. I was down about 40rpm and just couldn’t produce any power and watched them all ride off in front of me, I think I hit a max of about 160 beats per minute and went home empty handed after losing the under 23 jersey on a day that I had thought I was going to take yellow.
Honestly, I was a bit devo about coming back to NZ after a good season and not being able to win up a steep hill.
Not only did I not win though but there were sprinters and other big rigs riding rings around me. I use to think a lot of people who race over in Europe or the states or whatever come here for some fun at the end of the year but it turns out most people are stomping, most of them better than they have all year and well –I’m down on struggle street a few days away from a month off the bike I feel like I should get in on the action but maybe I should of thought about that 6 weeks ago!
Stage 3 and winning with Alex on Stage 4 to Te Anau
Anyway our fortunes changed today! The boys rode out of their skin on both parts of the double stage day with the big one over Black Mount to Te Anau earning Alex Meenhorst a win.
We had Joe Lewis in the early break and then we lit it up over the hill and I got myself in a good move ahead of Roulston.
His team pulled us back and the day’s early move came back with us. After that we just started opening up in the final 30 kilometres and a group of 5 slipped up the road with Kieran Hambrook and Alex Meenhorst from our team in the mix. They dominated the last kilometer with Alex taking out the stage thanks to Hambrooks handy support.
We’ve just had a few glasses of red, cracked a bottle of champagne and may head down to check out the thriving metropolis of Te Anau now.
Ok, crown range 2mo,
Till the next entry,
- George Bennett
October 31, 2011, 5:41 GMT,
October 31, 2011, 9:57 GMT
"In the gutter racing" on day two fo the Tour
In the scheme of things I think Invercargill gets a bad wrap. Coming back down here for the fourth year in the same awesome set up with KIA motors team and by far the most enthusiastic set of staff I’ve ever had is pretty exciting. The Tour of Southland is a great race and I'm happy to be here with a great bunch of people.
It's been a funny race for me over the years. I have been getting consistently worse at the Tour since my first participation. As a junior I think I was top fifteen overall but haven’t been able to crack the top 50 since, so this year I owe the team a bit more of a performance despite having probably my worst build up in a while. Wisdom teeth issues, injuries, sickness and a rugby world cup meant I haven’t been doing the ideal prep before coming here - but I'll do my best.
Day 1 [Yesterday] of the Tour went well. We lost a little bit of time in the 4 km teams time trail but the boys scrapped together to get four of us across the line with no crashes or major dramas.
Today however threw us a few more curve balls. 160 kilometres of cross winds and dead roads isn’t exactly good for my sub 60kg frame but in the end I managed to pull back some precious seconds on overnight leader Hayden Roulston. However at one stage it looked like I was again heading for a disastrous result. We managed to stack our man Nick King in the 9-man early break and we sat back while "Rolys" boys controlled the front and waited for the fun to begin.
The winds kept getting stronger and it wasn’t long before it was full noise lined out in the gutter. I got blown completely off the road into the ditch; by the time I got back up I was in the 3rd group on the road. I eventually caught the second and crawled up to the front of the race in time for some more gutter attacks. I countered a Roulston move and slipped off the front and was soon joined by 5 others. We built a good gap but the boys started pissing around in the final kilometres and I finished last in the sprint after trying to keep the pace high 23secs in front of the bunch.
I did however get the pink jersey (Best under 23) by one second over Livestrong team mate Josh Atkins but with absolutely disgusting weather on the way and a small bump called ‘Bluff Hill’ tomorrow things are looking likely for another shake up. Luckily my teammates are hitters and know that I need some baby-sitting in the cold.
Whatever happens I’m having a bloody good time with a particularly animated team and of course some great banter in the bunch that is traditional to the mighty Tour of Southland.
- George Bennett
George Bennett is a New Zealand rider with a big future. An impressive year riding with American development team Trek-Livestrong has set the 21-year-old up on the brink of a professional future.
Back in New Zealand for the Tour of Southland, Bennett is blogging for Cyclingnews as he aims to complete a rare antipodean double, having earlier in the year taken out the Tour of Wellington.
Follow his journey as he describes the ups-and-downs of the unheralded, but leg-crunching Tour of Southland; the unofficial "fourth Grand Tour".