Can Torckler do it this time around? That is the question on our minds as we wake up to stage 4 of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland. Last year the overall lead in the race changed hands like a hot potato, but for all intents and purposes if you’re looking for the in-form rider at the moment surely in the Blindz Direct man you’ve found him!
It’s one thing to win, it’s another thing to win when all eyes are on you. Last year we knew that Michael Torckler would be a factor on Coronet Peak but we weren’t quite prepared for the way he and Hamish Bond bossed the climb on the way to victory. This year, with one stage win already in the bag, how could he have rolled to the bottom of the climb without being anything but a heavily marked man?
And yet he still breezed up the climb. 32 seconds faster than James Piccoli, 37 seconds ahead of Michael Vink; and they were the only ones to get within even 1.30mins of the New Plymouth rider.
However, expect Blindz Direct to be pretty heavily on their guard this time, because Torckler knows very well from last year that in Southland anything is possible. It was not the climb of Bluff Hill that got Torckler last year as much as it was the run in to it. From the off last year PowerNet, Placemakers, KIA Motors – Ascot Park Hotel, Mike Greer Homes, all were charging on the front of the peloton and it ultimately cracked Torckler’s Vantage Windows and Doors Team very early; with Torckler losing his lead and finding himself 2.14mins down on Michael Vink.
Expect Vink to be biting at the bit at the thought of doing again on Bluff Hill what Torckler did again on Coronet Peak. But expect Torckler and Blindz Direct to be ever more determined that history shan’t repeat itself.