On the road and off it, the Kiwi Velo-Armstrong Prestige team is making all the right calls this week as it continues to defend the SBS Bank Tour of Southland’s yellow jersey.
The team not only boasts the experience of last year’s Tour winner Mike Northey, as well as current Tour leader James Oram, but its experience off the road is playing an equally important role, with former pro cyclist and Olympian Tim Gudsell as director.
Gudsell is no stranger to the SBS Bank Tour of Southland, completing it “numerous times”, and recording a stage victory in 2011. This week is a change of scene, but a seat in the van rather than a seat on a bike has not changed his will to win.
“Whenever you get around a bike race you seem to get your competitive edge back,” he said.
“I want these guys to win as much as they do, so I’m just here to do everything I can for them. I have ridden this event numerous times. Obviously it’s changing and it changes with the conditions so we have to change with it. But I’ve been around bike racing long enough to know what’s needed and what’s not. I’ve also known James long enough to know what his strengths are and what he’s capable of.”
“We really want to keep that yellow jersey and we’re confident we can keep it to the end of the week, we just have to be smart about it and the way we do it.”
The team also includes Northey’s cousin, Fraser Northey, along with Fraser Gough, Matt Cronshaw and Daniel Barry. Mike Northey, along with Cronshaw and Barry all rode for last year’s winning team Node 4 Subaru and are putting in an equally impressive performance this year.
Gudsell has been particularly impressed with what he has seen from Oramand is confident the young talent has a bright future in the sport.
“James does everything right, right down to his recovery to his nutrition, he’s a true professional. For a kid like him it’s not a matter of if he’ll turn pro, it’s when he’ll turn pro. He’s got plenty of time, but I think we’ll see a lot of him in the next few years.”
Oram, who has been leading the SBS Bank-sponsored Tour since he powered up Bluff Hill on Tuesday, said Gudsell’s experience had been invaluable this week.
“He’s got years of experience, so it’s kind of reassuring,” he said.
“It’s like having an older brother. He’s done it before, he knows what to expect and he’s just going to pass that knowledge on to you so you’re obviously more confident.”
The Kiwi Velo-Armstrong Prestige team had a great day on the road today, with Cronshaw winning the 158km Stage 5 from Lumsden to Invercargill, and Oram retaining a 33 second lead in the general classification going into tomorrow’s two final stages.
The 2013 SBS Bank Tour of Southland concludes tomorrow with an individual time trial in Winton, then a short 87km stage from Winton to Invercargill.