Cantabrian Michael Vink has won back-to-back SBS Bank Tour of Southland titles. After third place in the individual time trial he defended successfully to secure the title ahead of Alex Heaney & Hamish Schreurs.

Vink joins an illustrious list of riders to have won multiple Southland titles including Hayden Roulston, Gordon McCauley, Graeme Miller, Brian Fowler, Jack Swart, Stephen Cox, Warwick Dalton and Tino Tabak.

“Winning back-to-back is pretty special. I looked up a couple of nights ago to see who had done it and it’s really a who’s who of New Zealand cycling, so to be up there with those guys is a pretty cool feeling.”

Vink’s victory was built on a tremendous performance by his Placemakers team in the fifth stage from Invercargill to Gore on Friday after it looked like Mexican rider Eder Frayre had climbed his way into an untouchable position after winning both Coronet Peak and Bluff Hill.

Michael Vink has joined the successful defence of Southland titles club, photo James Jubb/Studio Jubb

“I’ve done this tour 10 times and I know there’s always a chance, you’ve just got to find it. We got our chance on the way to Gore and we took it with both hands. The way the team rode was absolutely phenomenal.”

Vink has been competing in Southland for a decade and was a two-time runner up before breaking through in 2018.

“I guess you can say that when it rains it pours, and that’s not just the Southland weather. The first win definitely was the hardest, but each one is special in its own way,” he said.

“I was pretty nervous last night. When you’ve got one hand on the trophy you’ve got more to lose. I knew it was about getting the small things right, having a good time trial and getting the boys together for the final stage. To have Dylan get the stage win was the perfect way to end the tour.”

Vink will now have a week off before heading to Asia for a week-long stage race, followed by the Pioneer mountainbike race where he will attempt to defend his title with Tim Rush.

Dylan Kennett on his way to the first of two stage wins in a day, photo James Jubb/Studio Jubb

Kennett rules against the clock as Vink protects his lead

Vink finished third in the penultimate stage, a 13km individual time trial based at Winton, with stage honours going to New Zealand endurance track rider Dylan Kennett.

Heavy rain before the stage gave way to relatively calm conditions for the field throughout the time trial. Kennett (Placemakers) completed the circuit in 16min 17sec, nearly half a minute ahead of second placed Glenn Haden (Coupland’s Bakeries), with Vink a further 4sec behind.

“You had to be quite mature about your pacing and watts out there today, although the conditions were better than last year,” Kennett, who claimed the Tom Tindale trophy, said.

Kennett for two as Vink joins the illustrious list

Dylan Kennett completed an outstanding final day on the 2019 tour, backing up his win in the time trial with the stage win in Gala St to finish the tour.

Kennett edged out his New Zealand track cycling teammates Campbell Stewart (Base Solutions Racing-WCNI) and Corbin Strong (Team Skoda Fruzio) for the stage win.

And completing the set . . . . Dylan Kennett makes it two just a short while after TT victory, photo James Jubb/Studio Jubb

Strong won the Grant Toomey memorial trophy for first Southlander home, finishing seventh overall and second in the under 23 classification, which was taken out on the last stage by Dutch rider Antonie Van Noppen (PowerNet), who was also fourth overall.

Ollie Jones (PowerNet) won the King of the Mountains classification, with Southland’s Tom Sexton (Business South) taking out the Sprint Ace’s green jersey and taking Most Combative honours for the final stage.

After a superb second-placing in the individual time trial and a strong finish, Glenn Haden (Coupland’s Bakeries) came through to claim the over 35 Silver jersey.

PowerNet was a comfortable winner in the team classification.

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