Alex Heaney goes into stage 1 of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland with the leader’s jersey on his shoulders. Heaney’s PowerNet team lived up to their billing as the team to watch against the clock and took their second consecutive prologue team time trial win in style. Now the hard work begins!
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For Alex Heaney putting on the Southland leader’s yellow jersey for the first time in his career is an experience he will never forget. One of Cambridge’s favourite sons was part of the winning PowerNet team in last year’s team time trial, where Roman van Uden enjoyed the privilege of crossing the line first to take yellow. This time it’s the best beard in cycling’s turn!
“We are stoked, it was always the aim going in to come away with the win, a lot of good teams in the Tour this year but we were confident in the riders we have that it could happen,” Heaney told RoadCycling.
Southland is one of the most unpredictable races on the calendar, with weather often being one of the more decisive factors in victory here than anywhere else. Having the first win under the belt, as Heaney explains, is less reason to relax though given what’s ahead, and more fuel for the week coming up.
“It’s pretty important for us as a team to get off to a good start, it is a good confidence booster and gives us a lot of motivation heading into the rest of the week,” Heaney said.
Although PowerNet, and many of the other teams present at Southland, are largely joined together for one day only, Heaney and teammates Sam Gaze and Josh Kuysten have already forged a successful partnership up north for GD Pringle p/b Spoken Cycles. In round 1 of the Grassroots Trust Team Championship they took out the honours in the opening team time trial; experience that has carried over well for one of New Zealand’s most prestigious stage races.
“For sure, we were all coming into the tour with ambitions for each other to go well, we have gelled very well as a team as the TTT showed and we look forward to building on today’s teamwork and having an awesome week,” Alex said.
Today’s stage to Lumsden is the longest of the Tour and last year served up the first of two stage wins for Michael Torckler. Going into the stage with yellow on his back has given Heaney and the team a different perspective than they otherwise would have, but Alex and co are happy to simply take each day as it comes from here.
“Winning [yesterday] definitely changes the way you think about [today’s] stage, [today] is the longest day of the tour so anything can happen,” Heaney said. “I think we just need to see how the day pans out and take it as it comes but we have a few options so we look forward to it!”