It was a day of déjàvu on day one of the 2014 SBS Bank Tour of Southland as Joe Cooper secured the yellow jersey after taking out the fastest time in team trial today.
Cooper, returning as one of this year’s Tour favourites again this year and riding for the new Avanti Racing Team, completed the 4.2km lap of Invercargill’s Queens Park in 4 minutes, 57 seconds in wet, greasy conditions.
Showing strong team form, Avanti Racing finished four seconds clear of Kia Motors – Ascot Park with Breads of Europe –All About Plumbing 11 seconds behind the leaders.
Cooper said everyone in the team felt like their legs turned up for the 4km circuit and they just focussed on taking the corners with a bit of caution as they felt like they were aquaplaning at times.
“It is a bit of déjàvu to be in the same position with the yellow jersey 12 months after day one of the tour and I’m hoping it will be the same case in final day’s time trial too,” he said.
“We’d prefer the weather to stay extremely windy, it would be good for the Australian guys to be broken down a bit and experience the extreme weather that we all know the tour is known for – perhaps with a bit of hail thrown in as well.”
Tom Scully (Kia Motors-Ascot Park Hotel) will go into Stage 1 in the Harcourts Sprint Ace Jersey, while Hayden McCormick will wear the Jesco Hydraulics King of the Mountain, Fraser Gough will wear the Henderson Construction Ltd U23 and Lee Johnstone (Placemakers) will wear the inaugural Stonewood Homes Over 40s jerseys.
Cooper said Stage 1 from Invercargill to Gore tomorrow would be a day of survival and all about staying warm with the weather looking to cut up and be seriously colder.
“We just want an awesome solid team effort again tomorrow.”
Tour director for the past 29 years Bruce Ross said it was an exciting field again this year with plenty of youth and a number of potential winners featuring.
“Cooper has immediately thrown his gauntlet down on day one, we know Scully is keen to do his absolute best and last year’s runner-up Taylor Gunman is just the tip of the iceberg with many potential winners in the mix of the field.”
“Things will become a little clearer as the week unfolds and it will be exciting to witness.”
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Riders face the 168km Stage 1, sponsored by the Mataura Licensing Trust, from Invercargill to Gore