Stage 3: Invercargill to Gore – 164 kms
Today was the first really hard day for all of us. Not hard in terms of pitch ( nothing beats Bluff Hill) but hard in terms of length and speed. There were 10 sprints in the first 50 kms, which meant that the pace was savage right from the gun.
Nick Lovegrove (permanently referred to by the race directors as Longrove) managed to get 3rd in one of the sprints before the break of the day got established. Andrew Eagles initially made the break but a crash in front forced him to stop suddenly and another rider went into the back of him puncturing Andrew’s rear wheel. Andrew got a fairly good wheel change (but he couldn’t say the same for the wheel itself) and got back onto the bunch without too much hassle.
The same couldn’t be said for Nico. His wheel change left him behind the convoy with a long way to chase to get back on. Not knowing what the protocols were for something like this, Jane and I decided to drift back and with for him. We then paced him back on to the back of the convoy hitting speeds of over 60 kph. Nico seemed to handle it well so we moved forward to get into position in the convoy. Unfortunately just after we got Nico back on, we hit a small hill: Nico’s legs stopped working after the effort of getting back on and he drifted out the back, not to be seen again until after the bunch finished
In the meantime, the break that had got away earlier on was steadily building up a lead, which got up to over 4 minutes at one point. Then three riders, Paul Odlin, Gordon McCauley and Will Dickeson, attacked off the front of the break and quickly got a good gap. They increased their lead to almost a minute and held that gap all the way to the finish. That put Gordy into the yellow jersey and left the other major contenders, Yates, Strong and Roulston, wondering what they should have done.
As for as Team Hudson Gavin Martin was concerned, it took the heat out of the chase and allowed the remaining four of the to make it to the finish safely. Nico came in 24 minutes behind but he was still smiling. That guy is so laid back he’s almost horizontal.
Just after we pulled up at the finish line the rain started so our main job was to find the riders, get them into a warm van, feed them and drive back to Invercargill, so that they could have a hot showers , a massage and more food.
And then after a hopefully restful night they’ll be fighting fit and ready to face the double stage day tomorrow: 88kms from Invercargill to Tuatapere and then 102 kms from Tuatapere to Winton