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Hail the final day of the Tour of Southland
Nov 5th, 11. Those riders who managed to sleep through the many hail storms in Invercargill last night awoke to find the cars and grounds covered in white.
Today is the final day of the 2011 PowerNet Tour of Southland - a double day of racing with a morning time trial and an afternoon road stage.
*** UPDATE - This morning's time trial has been cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions. It was a full on snow storm on the drive to Winton!
This afternoon's stage is going ahead, but minus the three laps around Queens Park in Invercargill. First time to Gala Street is the finish. ***
At 8am it is currently 2.7 degrees, but according to MetService it feels like minus 3, and the hail / graupel keeps falling.
Unfortunately for the riders, there is still much at stake today - stage glory, and for a few, a real possibility of winning the overall tour title.
Josh Atkins (PowerNet) has a 1m05s lead to yesterday's victor Tim Gudsell (PureBlack Racing), 1m09s to Paddy Bevin (Ascot Park Hotel) and 1m19s to Chris Macic (Share the Road).
Each of these riders can time trial well, but in these conditions who will shine? Macic probably has the best advantage after spending the season racing in bleak Belgium, while Atkins, Gudsell and Bevin raced in the USA - but 1min is a lot of time to catch in a 13km race and Atkins has won a few TT national titles despite his tiny frame.
None of the riders can rely on their teammates for support this morning - the individual time trial is the race of truth.
Stage glory is also on offer and Subway Pro Cycling's Westley Gough has extra motivation to do well - he is proudly wearing his NZ Time Trial Champion skinsuit for the first time in New Zealand.
"It's a bit different doing a time trial at the end of a tour, but the strong riders should still come through," Gough said. "At this stage it's all about recovery and who has the best legs on the day."
Also looking to do well is Creation Signs L&M Group Racing who are hunting a stage win today and will be backing Aaron Gate in this afternoon's 87km stage from Winton to Invercargill.
If the GC is still close after the time trial, there will be all hell on the roads this afternoon as PureBlack Racing, Share the Road and Ascot Park unleash everything they have on the as yet unflappable young PowerNet team.
Hail the Tour of Southland!
PowerNet Tour of Southland - Sun Oct 30th to Sat Nov 5th
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