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New leader in the PowerNet Tour of Southland
Nov 1st, 12. Another tough day, another Tour leader. Bissell Pro Racing rider Carter Jones of the USA rode a calculated smart race today to win the stage over the switch back finish of the Crown Range in Queenstown.
Today's stage, the longest in the Tour at 179 kms had the riders racing from Te Anau to finish at the top of the Crown Range outside of Queenstown. Eleven Sprints and four KoM prizes were up for grabs and a very well sort after time bonus at the top of the Rangers.
We were always going to see a break go away early and that's just what happened, King of the Mountains jersey holder Joe Chapman (Creation Signs- L&M Group Racing) seized the moment when a small group formed. With four chances to collect points for that category he was keen to see the early move work.
20kms into the race a powerful group of nine riders had formed, joining Chapman was his team member Aaron Gate, Subway Pro Racing riders Paul Odlin and Nick Lovegrove, Invercargill's Dillon Bennett and Hanish Schreurs (H&Js Outdoor World), Scott Thomas (Olphert Contracting- McKenzie Craik) Kerian Hambrook (Ascot Park Hotel- Kia Southland) and yesterdays most aggressive stage 4 rider and NZ Champion James Williamson of Pure Black Racing.
These guys had a 2 minute lead as they hit the first climb of the day at Gorge Hill, Chapman started his collection of KoM points on this climb, with Kerian Hambrook also keen for the Poka dots.
Chapman said "the day started very aggersive in the first 15kms" but "Good team work from Gate really helped him collect some early points"
The break went out to over 5 minutes,but again the cagey experience of the GC riders always felt they had things under control, and with the Yellow Jersey holders team Node4-Subaru and Calder Stewart controlling the peloton in the strong cross winds it would only be a matter of time when the race would regroup.
By the time the race rounded into Queenstown all the escapees 8 back in the peloton, leaving a solo attempt by Scott Thomas to brave the road alone.
Calder Stewarts Michael Vink and Roman van Uden (Pure Black Racing) were the next two to cross to the lone rider, in an attempt to gap them selves before the start of the final 3km assent of the tough switch back Crown Range climb but their effort was short lived and the power of Node 4-Subaru and Bissell Pro Racing would't allow these attempts to last.
It was clear that the strength of the Yellow jersey wearer Mike Northey, USA rider Carter Jones and Waimate's Heath Blackgrove (PowerNet) that any more break attempts would be foiled as they raced up the climb.
The Bissell rider had just enough in the legs to win the stage by 11 seconds from Brodie Talbot (Southsure Insurance Team) and Blackgrove.
A further 8 seconds back was David Clark (Node4-Subaru) and U23 jersey holder Taylor Gunman (Pure Black Racing), Gunman again showing how much he has learnt and gained over the past 12 months with another very strong performance.
The PowerNet tour leader Mike Northey (Node4-Subaru) was eighth over the line 27 seconds back.
Dual stage winner Paddy Bevin was forced to pull out of the race due to illness, but the Bissell team were able to show their experience to deliver Jones to victory.
With his win and time bonus, Jones moves into Yellow with two more days of racing to go, he holds a 29 second lead over Northey.
"Our plan at the start of the day was to take Yellow" Jones said, "we were concerned when we lost Bevin, but the guys really stepped up out there and we are very happy"
Gordon McCauly finished the day 49 seconds behind Jones to move into fourth on GC, down 2.08, a place ahead of Sean Hambrook (Ascot Park Hotel- Kia Southland).
Tomorrow sees the riders leave Invercargill and travel to Wyndham, Mataura and a loop to finsh in Gore, a total of 167kms, a tough way to back up todays popular Crown Ranges stage.
PowerNet Tour of Southland - Sun Oct 28th to Sat Nov 3rd
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