A second place finish in Stage 1 of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland has been enough to propel Southland cyclist Cam Karwowski into the tour’s yellow jersey.
PowerNet’s Roman van Uden took out stage honours; finishing the 167km stage from Invercargill to Gore just two seconds ahead of Karwowski, and Pure South’s TherySchir who led the bunch over the line. But it is Karwowski, riding for H&Js Outdoor World Avanti Plus – with a 1 second lead in the general classification – that has gone into yellow.
“I didn’t really even consider the possibility of yellow after this stage,” he said.
“It was a bit disappointing not to get first (in the stage), but to come away with yellow is a great achievement.”
“It was probably one of the crusiest stages I’ve done on the tour, so I’d expect the whole peloton to have pretty fresh legs tomorrow, there wasn’t much wind to it.”
vanUdenwas part of a group of nine riders that broke away from the peloton early in the stage. With about 10km to go van Uden made the most of a strong tail wind to ride the final minutes of the stage solo, taking out the stage victory and the Harcourts Sprint Ace jersey.
“It was a pretty long day but it wasn’t too tough, the break didn’t work that well together but it was slow enough that you could save the legs a bit,” he said.
“I picked up a lot of points along the way which was my main goal when I got into the break, thenI just tried to hang out for a stage win when we hit the tail wind because I knew it would be a fast finish.”
A fast finish it was, and now just one second splits three riders at the top of the general classification, with Karwowski in yellow and van Uden and Daniel Barry (Kiwi Velo-Armstrong Prestige) both just one second back, with the infamous Bluff Hill stage tomorrow.
“I don’t rate my chances up Bluff Hill to be fair, even though I got fourth last year,” Karwowski said.
“But having a day in yellow is a good thing for a team and we’ll show up with pride, go into tomorrow and do our best.”
Karwowski is backed by a strong southern team riding forH&Js Outdoor World Avanti Plus, which also features Matt Zenovich, Luke McPherson, Sean Finning, Liam Aitcheson and Tom Vessey.
James Oram (Kiwi Velo – Armstrong Prestige) now leads the Henderson Construction Ltd U23 classification, whilst Grayson Napier (Creation Signs – L&M Group Racing) will wear the Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountain jersey in Stage 2 tomorrow. Huon Salmon Genesys Wealth Advisers lead the Wensley’s Cycles team classification.
Craig Evers (Southsure Insurance) picked up The Southland Times’ Most Combative Award for the stage; an award introduced this year and presented to the rider with the most aggressive performance of the day.
“It was a big day out there, we spent a lot of kilometres out there on the road and I just tried to be as aggressive as I could, attack and give it everything I had,” Evers said, post-stage.
“To come across the line and hear that I had the jersey made it all worth it.”
Riders meet the infamous Bluff Hill. Stage 2 leaves Invercargill at 10am and riders head out towards Central Southland, passing through Winton and Drummond before turning back and going through Waianawa, Wallacetown and Otatara. The stage finishes at the top of Bluff Hill – one of two stages on the tour with a hill finish.