Hayden Roulston’s foot remains firmly planted on the accelerator in his PowerNet Tour of Southland quest, dubbed “the drive for five”.
The Calder Stewart rider powered to just his second Bluff Hill Climb victory in 10 Tour appearances today, effectively laying down the gauntlet for the rest of the field and reclaiming the yellow jersey from team-mate Jeremy Vennell, of Hastings.
“I’m really, really happy that I could win today. It’s a very famous climb in the Tour of Southland. For me to win today was mission accomplished,” Roulston said.
“I was pretty comfortable going up the hill. They set a pretty fast pace at the start but it’s a hill where if you don’t ride within your red zone, you won’t have any other zone to go to at the top. I’ve ridden it 8 to 10 times in the race now and I knew how to ride it.
“I knew I had the legs to win but trying to win when it’s so cold and, especially if you’ve been sitting in the bunch all day, it’s really difficult to just go `snap’.”
Calder Stewart now boasts a 1min 14sec lead over nearest rival Pure Black Racing in the teams’ classification, followed by Ascot Park Hotel a further 16sec adrift.
Roulston paid credit to his team-mates and commended the Share the Road contingent for braving the testing conditions and contributing to the workload at the front of the peloton.
“That was mainly because they really believed in the chances of Jeremy Yates and hats off to them you know. They could all sit back and hope I lose the Tour or they can go out and try and win the Tour themselves,” he said.
“They put everything into that and unfortunately for them Jeremy just didn’t have the legs today and that’s how cycling is.”
PowerNet young gun Josh Atkins narrowly missed upstaging the defending champion on the notorious climb but can take some consolation from earning second overall in the general classification stakes and snatching the Co-operative Bank Under-23 jersey.
The Christchurch 19-year-old, who rides for Lance Armstrong’s Trek-Livestrong team in the US, said he was satisfied with the result.
“It was definitely a goal to win this stage. I’m happy I got second but I knew I was capable of winning it. With the roads being so wet, I couldn’t climb out of my saddle and accelerate a lot more – it was just too hard and my wheel was slipping. It was close but not close enough,” he said.
Atkins’ ability on the gradient will no doubt cement his reputation as a gutsy climber.
“I really like climbing. Overseas I got a bit of a kick in the arse and found out how fast you really have to climb so I’m definitely working on it. I’m still finding out what kind of a rider I am but I’m definitely not a flat sprinter,” he said.
He was confident the talented PowerNet team could have an impact on this year’s event.
“Anything can happen … you definitely won’t see us sitting on the back,” he said.
Auckland’s Gordon McCauley, riding for Barry Stewart Builders-GMC, notched up an impressive 18 wins from the 19 sprints on offer to claim the Harcourts Sprint Ace jersey and establish an intimidating 37 point advantage over Oliver Harding-Sheath, of Partners Life-Champion System.
“We don’t have a team that can win this bike race, we have to be realistic,” McCauley said.
“But there are three other jerseys and why shouldn’t we have a crack for those and try to win a stage, so that’s what we’re doing.”
In a repeat of yesterday’s performance, the wily McCauley struck out early and took command of a breakaway group of six riders to earn leader on the road status for the majority of the 137km stage.
The commendable pace set from the outset was a reflection of the gloomy conditions and spoke volumes about the riders’ desire to simply complete the gruelling stage and retreat to a drier sanctuary.
Creation Signs-L & M Group Racing’s Joe Chapman retained the Hydralink-Jesco King of the Mountain jersey and now has a healthy 12-point buffer on Henderson Construction’s Tom Hubbard, of Christchurch.
The 104-strong field of riders will battle it out over two stages tomorrow, opening with a 48km leg from Riverton to Tuatapere before the Blackmount Hill looms large in the 100km stage from Tuatapere to Te Anau.
Video Highlights courtesy of the Powernet Tour of Southland
Rider Name (Country) Team
Hayden Roulston (Calder Stewart)
Josh Atkins (PowerNet)
Patrick Bevin (Ascot Park Hotel)
Scott Lyttle (Pure Black Racing)
George Bennett (Kia Motors)
Jeremy Yates (Share The Road)
Tim Gudsell (Pure Black Racing)
Mike Olheiser (Jackson Plumbing-Plumbing World)
Andi Bajic (The Southland Times)
Aaron Strong (Ascot Park Hotel)
Jeremy Vennell (Calder Stewart)
Dion Smith (H&J's Outdoor World-Avanti Plus)
Taylor Gunman (H&J's Outdoor World-Avanti Plus)
Marc Ryan (Calder Stewart)
James Early (Henderson Contruction Ltd)
Joseph Cooper (Mico-Protrain Cycling Team)
Alexander Ray (H&J's Outdoor World-Avanti Plus)
Nick Lovegrove (Subway Pro Cycling)
Chris Macic (Share The Road)
Danny Pulbrook (Radio Sport)
Westley Gough (Subway Pro Cycling)
Henri Bardoul (Southern Institute Of Technology)
Glen Chadwick (Pure Black Racing)
Clinton Avery (Ascot Park Hotel)
Brett Tivers (Share The Road)
Greg Taylor (Ultimo-HGM)
Patrick Jones (Barry Stewart Builders-Gordon McCauley Coaching)
Sam Bewley (Calder Stewart)
Mark Langlands (H&J's Outdoor World-Avanti Plus)
Matt Marshall (Radio Sport)
Daniel Molyneux (Ultimo-HGM)
Tom Scully (PowerNet)
Michael Vink (Mico-Protrain Cycling Team)
Shem Rodger (Pure Black Racing)
Aaron Gate (Creation Signs - L&M Group Racing)
Sheldon Gorter (Partners Life-Champion System)
Peter Latham (Subway Pro Cycling)
Ryan Obst (Radio Sport)
Paul Odlin (Subway Pro Cycling)
Nick Jowsey (Ultimo-HGM)
Wade Mangham (Ascot Park Hotel)
Tim Rush (Olphert Contracting Ltd)
Ian Smallman (Subway Pro Cycling)
Tom Hubbard (Henderson Contruction Ltd)
Simon Binney (Southern Institute Of Technology)
Scott Cunningham (Barry Stewart Builders-Gordon McCauley Coaching)
Louis Wright (Mico-Protrain Cycling Team)
Richard Rollinson (Ultimo-HGM)
Logan Mort (Partners Life-Champion System)
Kieran Hambrook (Kia Motors)
Fraser Gough (H&J's Outdoor World-Avanti Plus)
Alex Mcgregor (The Southland Times)
Brad Evans (Olphert Contracting Ltd)
Daniel Barry (Pure Black Racing)
Shane Archbold (PowerNet)
Alex Frame (PowerNet)
Pavel Stuchlik (The Southland Times)
Sam Horgan (Subway Pro Cycling)
Steve Wright (Southern Institute Of Technology)
James Mccoy (Henderson Contruction Ltd)
Craig Johns (Radio Sport)
Sam Steele (Creation Signs - L&M Group Racing)
Myron Simpson (PowerNet)
Tom Francis (Creation Signs - L&M Group Racing)
Richard Lawson (Ultimo-HGM)
Joshua Aldridge (The Southland Times)
Lee Johnstone (Southern Institute Of Technology)
Jason Christie (Calder Stewart)
Peter Murphy (Radio Sport)
Karl Murray (Share The Road)
Bevan Mason (Ascot Park Hotel)
Alex Meenhorst (Kia Motors)
Joe Chapman (Creation Signs - L&M Group Racing)
Louis Crosby (Pure Black Racing)
Jeremy Inglis (Olphert Contracting Ltd)
Justin Kerr (Share The Road)
Jason Allen (Calder Stewart)
Nick King (Kia Motors)
Cameron Karwowski (PowerNet)
Tom David (Share The Road)
Paul Whitley (Barry Stewart Builders-Gordon McCauley Coaching)
Joseph Lewis (Kia Motors)
Justin Stott (Radio Sport)
Gordon Mccauley (Barry Stewart Builders-Gordon McCauley Coaching)
Darcy Ellerm-Norton (Henderson Contruction Ltd)
Matt Wheatcroft (Mico-Protrain Cycling Team)
Tim Carswell (Barry Stewart Builders-Gordon McCauley Coaching)
Oliver Harding-Sheath (Partners Life-Champion System)
Kane Walker (Jackson Plumbing-Plumbing World)
Kyle Wood (Olphert Contracting Ltd)
Eric Drower (Partners Life-Champion System)
Johnathon Atkinson (Olphert Contracting Ltd)
Brad Carter (Mico-Protrain Cycling Team)
Aidan Mckenzie (Partners Life-Champion System)
Scott Thomas (H&J's Outdoor World-Avanti Plus)
Gary Carleton (Southern Institute Of Technology)
Eric Lau (Jackson Plumbing-Plumbing World)
Dillon Bennett (Partners Life-Champion System)
Marc Prutton (The Southland Times)
Hamish Wright (Barry Stewart Builders-Gordon McCauley Coaching)
Aaron Schneider (Ultimo-HGM)
Travis Kane (Olphert Contracting Ltd)
Courtney Black (Kia Motors)
Brendan Sharratt (Creation Signs - L&M Group Racing)