Matt Zenovich became the first Southlander in 10 years to win a stage in the SBS Bank Tour of Southland today, when he stormed home to win the 148km Stage 3 from Riverton to Te Anau but James Oram will stay in yellow for tomorrow’s highly anticipated fourth stage.
Zenovich, part of a locally-based H&Js Outdoor World Avanti Plus team, did a huge amount of work as part of a group of seven riders that broke away early today. The break, which also featured Brad Evans (PowerNet) and Kieran Hambrook (Ascot Park Hotel Kia Southland) who finished the stage second and third respectively, had a lead of 3minutes40seconds by the time it reached the Blackmount Hill climb. While that was whittled down to less than a minute, Zenovich was never about to relinquish his chance at a stage victory.
With about 10km to go, Evans and Zenovich went off the front and Zenovichwon the sprint finish down Te Anau’s Lakefront Drive.
“I knew he (Evans) could sprint better than me so I had to sit on him… I played dumb and told him I couldn’t do anything and sort of fed it to him at the end really,” he said.
“It’s kind of mean, but it’s the sport, so you’ve got to do it. I’m stoked, this is a pretty big win and I’m pretty happy.”
While Zenovich now goes to 13th in the general classification,Oram and his Kiwi Velo-Armstrong Prestige teammates did enough today to retain the yellow jersey and an 11 second lead over Joe Cooper (Huon Salmon Genesys Wealth Advisors) and Liam Aitcheson(H&Js Outdoor World Avanti Plus) going into tomorrow’s potentially Tour defining stage – a 179km ride from Te Anau to Queenstown, finishing with an 8km climb up Coronet Peak.
“You always want to be one step ahead of everyone else, so to come into Coronet in yellow … I only have to follow people, I don’t have to be the aggressor, it’s good,”Oram said.
“It’s probably one of the longest climbs in any New Zealand race, so it will be interesting to see how some of the younger boys shape up, especially Liam who is second overall. I know the likes of Mike Torkler and Jeremy Vennell, from racing in the States, can handle these types of climbs so I’ll probably be watching out for them.”
“It’s not make or break, but it’s definitely a day where if I gain time it will be very, very valuable and I don’t see myself losing time.”
Tom Scully (Ascot Park Hotel Kia Southland) kept hold of theHarcourts Sprint Ace jersey, and Grayson Napier (Creation Signs L&M Group Racing) retained the Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountain jersey. With Oram in yellow, Aitcheson will wear the Henderson Construction U23 jersey tomorrow andHuon Salmon Genesys Wealth Advisors leads the Wensley’s Cycles team classification.
Zenovich also picked up The Southland Times most combative rider award for his aggressive riding throughout the stage.
One of the most anticipated stages in the 2013 SBS Bank Tour of Southland – a 179km ride from Te Anau to Queenstown and finishing with an 8km climb up Coronet Peak. Has the potential to be Tour-defining.