A cold wet day in the Tour of Southland – now that’s more like what we’re used to. Guy Fawkes Day should have been a wash-out but the fireworks started with the first sprint, as a few riders attacked off the front. Within 10 kms a group of seven established a break that would stay away until Blackmount Hill another 100kms away. Included in that break were two Orca Velo Merino riders, our bruised Aussie Will Tehan and our pocket rocket Aray, as well as the KOM and Sprint jersey leaders, so there was a good chance that the break would be given enough time to collect the points in those two competitions.
Aray and Will did indeed collect a handful of sprint and KOM points, although Roman van Uden and Joe Cooper continued to take first place in their respective competitions. The group’s lead got up to 2 minutes 20 but, as the race closed in on Blackmount Hill so did the chasing peloton. As expected Rollie, Bauer and Yates hit the climb at full speed and tore the peloton to shreds, catching the break just before the top of the climb.
Down the other side the reduced bunch was hitting 90 kph, and when they hit the flat sections with a tailwind the top riders continued at pace, quickly establishing a lead that would never again be threatened. From that lead group of 7 Roulston attacked again, forcing Share the Road to cover the attack. Jack Bauer managed to make contact in double quick time and the pair disappeared up the road, leaving an elite group to chase. Yates was in that group for a while but crashed as he was trying to take his cape off, reducing the group to 6 riders, including Floyd and Aray.
That group took it easy for a while waiting to see if Yates would rejoin but the commissaires were watching and told the team vans to ensure that he made an honest attempt to regain contact. Having no other Share the Road riders around him, Yates was force to do most of the chasing on his own. A third group on the road with 3 Pure Black riders in it helped bring back Floyd’s group with 8kms to go to the finish. In the meantime Bauer and Roulston continued on their merry way, establishing a 2 minute lead on their way to Te Anau. Roulston took the win, Bauer took the yellow jersey and Jeremy and Floyd followed into the finishing chute 1 minute 42 seconds later.
As a result of his hard work at the front, Aray moved up 5 places on GC to 12th, and 3rd in the U23 competition. Will came home in the remainder of the peloton moving up a place into the top 20. Sam, Andy and Andre took things a little easier today (if riding in the cold wet wind can be called easy), .
All in all a good day for Orca Velo Merino, which cemented its 5th position on team GC with 3 riders in the top 20.