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No better place to finish a season than in Southland

A break of five riders led by George Bennett (Kia Motors) has slipped off the front

A break of five riders led by George Bennett (Kia Motors) has slipped off the front (Image credit: Pete Bruggeman)

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.


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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".