He might be one of the youngest riders in the 2013 SBS Bank Tour of Southland, but Grayson Napier has climbed his way into the King of the Mountain jersey and has no plans to give it up.
The Australian-born, Nelson-based 18-year-old cyclist is backed by plenty of experience in the Creation Signs L&MGroup Racing team this week. Since making the break on day one of the week-long Tour, he has been dominating the Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountain standings, racking up an impressive 42 points after five days of racing.
Backed by the experience of Mosgiel’s Joe Chapman – a three time King of the Mountain winner –, Tim Chapman and Shem Rodger, Napier is loving his first SBS Bank Tour of Southland.
“It has definitely been a great Tour, I’ve enjoyed it so far, we’re trying to keep the weather off though – I’ve heard some bad stories,” he said.
“Riding with Creation Signs L&M Group Racing, we get looked after really well, we get all the support and James Canny has done an amazing job. If there’s something there to win we are going to try to win it. There’s no point rocking in the break on stage one and not coming away with anything. There’s great support with the likes of Joe and Shem and those top hitters and we’re definitely in a good position to hopefully take this jersey away at the end of the week.”
Napier raced for Team Fitlab in this year’s elite Benchmark Series, posting some good results, before being approached by Canny to ride the SBS Bank Tour of Southland. It was a chance he was not about to pass up and now he’s keen to make his mark as the Tour progresses.
In past Tours climbing points have been even across all climbs. This year, though, climbs are ranked – and Napier has certainly made the most of that, banking 42 points, with the polka dot jersey almost locked away with two days left to race.
Tim Rush (PowerNet) is his closest rival for the jersey, on 17 points.
The King of the Mountains jersey has sat comfortably on the shoulders of riders in the Creation Signs L&M team in recent years; predominantly that of Joe Chapman. It is becoming somewhat of a tradition and one Napier is pleased to play his part in.
“There’s definitely a lot of experience within the team, there’s nearly 20 Tours together with Shem and the Chapman boys … so we’ll see if we can pull off another one,” he said.