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, of Ashburton, 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.
Results from the 3rd stage of the PowerNet Tour of Southland.
Invercargill - Winton - Wallacetown - Bluff Hill
1. Hayden Roulston (CST) 3h22m44s; 2. Josh Atkins (PNT) at 02s; 3. Patrick Bevin (APH) at 28s; 4. Scott Lyttle (PBR) at 32s; 5. George Bennett (KMT) at 37s; 6. Jeremy Yates (STR) at 40s; 7. Tim Gudsell (PBR) at 47s; 8. Mike Olheiser (JPW) at 47s; 9. Andi Bajc (STH) at 47s; 10. Aaron Strong (APH) at 52s; 11. Jeremy Vennell (CST) at 59s; 12. Dion Smith (OWA) at 01m01s; 13. Taylor Gunman (OWA) at 01m05s; 14. Marc Ryan (CST) at 01m05s; 15. James Early (HCL) at 01m11s; 16. Joseph Cooper (MCP) at 01m11s; 17. Alexander Ray (OWA) at 01m17s; 18. Nick Lovegrove (SUB) at 01m17s; 19. Chris Macic (STR) at 01m17s; 20. Danny Pulbrook (RDS) at 01m24s; 21. Westley Gough (SUB) at 01m26s; 22. Henri Bardoul (SIT) at 01m33s; 23. Glen Chadwick (PBR) at 01m35s; 24. Clinton Avery (APH) at 01m38s; 25. Brett Tivers (STR) at 01m38s;
1. Hayden Roulston (CST) 7h53m30s; 2. Josh Atkins (PNT) at 10s; 3. Scott Lyttle (PBR) at 24s; 4. Patrick Bevin (APH) at 46s; 5. Jeremy Vennell (CST) at 48s; 6. George Bennett (KMT) at 50s; 7. Andi Bajc (STH) at 59s; 8. Jeremy Yates (STR) at 01m03s; 9. Tim Gudsell (PBR) at 01m05s; 10. Marc Ryan (CST) at 01m15s; 11. Mike Olheiser (JPW) at 01m24s; 12. Chris Macic (STR) at 01m34s; 13. Dion Smith (OWA) at 01m34s; 14. Nick Lovegrove (SUB) at 01m36s; 15. Taylor Gunman (OWA) at 01m41s; 16. Joseph Cooper (MCP) at 01m41s; 17. Clinton Avery (APH) at 01m43s; 18. Westley Gough (SUB) at 01m45s; 19. Glen Chadwick (PBR) at 01m53s; 20. Paul Odlin (SUB) at 01m58s; 21. Brett Tivers (STR) at 02m01s; 22. Danny Pulbrook (RDS) at 02m08s; 23. Shem Rodger (PBR) at 02m09s; 24. Peter Latham (SUB) at 02m16s; 25. Tom Scully (PNT) at 02m20s;
1. Calder Stewart 23h42m42s; 2. Pure Black Racing at 01m14s; 3. Ascot Park Hotel at 01m30s; 4. H&J's Outdoor World-Avanti Plus at 02m32s; 5. Share The Road at 02m32s; 6. Subway Pro Cycling at 03m03s; 7. PowerNet at 03m28s; 8. Mico-Protrain Cycling Team at 05m01s; 9. Kia Motors at 06m41s; 10. Radio Sport at 11m11s;
1. Gordon McCauley (BSB) 65; 2. Oliver Harding-Sheath (PTL) 28; 3. Chris Macic (STR) 26; 4. Brad Evans (OCL) 12; 5. Cameron Karwowski (PNT) 12; 6. James McCoy (HCL) 11; 7. Clinton Avery (APH) 9; 8. Peter Latham (SUB) 6; 9. Sam Horgan (SUB) 6; 10. Alex Meenhorst (KMT) 6;
King of Mountains
1. Joe Chapman (CSL) 24; 2. Tom Hubbard (HCL) 12; 3. Aaron Strong (APH) 10; 4. Hayden Roulston (CST) 8; 5. Cameron Karwowski (PNT) 6; 6. Patrick Bevin (APH) 6; 7. Josh Atkins (PNT) 4; 8. Chris Macic (STR) 2;