By Greg Johnson
The Tour of Southland will pay homage to the late Scott Peoples on tomorrow's Stage 7, the New Zealand race's toughest stage which was won in 2006 by the youngster from Shepparton in Victoria, Australia. Peoples put in a brilliant performance at last year's Tour of Southland and was reportedly in discussions with European squads about a contract for the 2007 season when he was tragically struck from behind by a Nissan Patrol four-wheel drive while training on the Maroondah highway in Merton, Victoria, and died later at the scene last December.
The entire peloton well observe one minute's silence at the start of tomorrow's 163.8 kilometre stage in Winton on Friday morning, before racing in the 19 year-old's memory on a stage dedicated to the young talent.
Riders from the The Southland Times-sponsored squad, for which Peoples contested last year's race, will wear black arm-bands on tomorrow's stage in Peoples' memory, while a special presentation will be held following the stage.
Peoples set last year's edition of the Tour of Southland alight with his relentless pursuit of victory. The Victorian claimed his first podium finish on the second stage, where he took second place to New Zealand's Clinton Avery, but he would go one place better just two stages later and score his first stage victory at the race. Despite dropping a large amount of time with the majority of the peloton on Stage 6, Peoples bounced back the following day on the event's toughest stage to claim another victory.
Early next month, the Scott Peoples Foundation in conjunction with the Shepparton Cycling Club will stage the inaugural Scotty's Race, designed to honour and celebrate the youngster's sprit. All funds raised from the 120 kilometre memorial race will go towards the Scott Peoples Memorial Fund Foundation, which was established to help promote and develop junior cycling in Australia. Peoples' mother Wendy will wave off the riders at the start line in Shepparton.
For more information visit www.scottpeoplesfoundation.com.au.