Hayden Roulston says he’s feeling fresh ahead of next week’s Tour of Southland, where he’s hoping to become the third rider to take a hat trick of victories. Another victory at the Invercargill race, which commences on Monday, would see Roulston join Tino Tabak and Bryan Fowler as the only riders to have won New Zealand’s premier road race three times in its 53 year history.
“The standard is fantastic, not only with some of our best riders but also some really strong riders and teams from overseas,” Roulston said. “This is a truly good Tour and is so well run. It deserves to have top riders.
“Kiwis like Jeremy Vennell, Jeremy Yates, Glen Chadwick and others are world class on the road,” he added of the locals competing.
Roulston believes the structure of his post-Tour de France season will benefit him at next week’s event. Roulston will ride for Columbia-HTC next season having spent 2009 with Professional Continental team Cervelo TestTeam.
“After the Tour de France I really only raced the world championships,” he said. “So I am looking forward to this. I have trained really well in recent weeks and I think I am in the best form ever – in body and mind – to take on the Tour of Southland.”
Floyd Landis will take part in this year’s event after a local team offered the American rider the vacant slot in their team. Roulston knows international riders like Landis will need to overcome the difficult weather conditions offered by the race, situated on the southern point of New Zealand’s south island.
“We’ve had top riders here from overseas before. But you have to be powerful and know how to ride the strong crosswinds. And you are bound to get a bad day with weather. That can totally change the race in one day.”
Roulston says one team to watch will be United States of America-based Team Bissell, led by Vennell and fellow Olympian Peter Latham. The team is managed by former Southland winner New Zealand’s Glen Mitchell.
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