Australian professional Sam Jenner has claimed a fast and frantic stage two on the 2023 SBS Bank Tour of Southland with Regan Gough taking over the tour leaders’ orange jersey.
Clear skies and relatively benign winds made for some rapid racing on the 166km stage through central and western Southland before Jenner attacked late and held off the chasing pack on the sprint up Lumsden’s main street.
It was the second straight stage win for the Central Benchmakers-Willbike team, after James Gardner’s victory in the street race yesterday.
Jenner was pleased to take the stage, especially after a ‘wild’ ride over the demanding gravel climb up the Glenure Hill.
“I’d probably prefer it about 10 degrees warmer as well, coming from Australia,” Jenner joked.
“There weren’t too many issues out on the road, although the gravel was pretty wild.”
Earlier in the day a seven-strong breakaway group managed to get out past 3min on the road.
It featured Rushvelo-Ridley’s Matthew Wilson, who had ridden himself into sprint ace contention before having to withdraw, with that jersey passing onto Nick Kergozou (Transport Engineering Southland-Deep South).
Max Campbell (C Brown Builders-Olphert Contracting) was first over the Glenure Hill, earning himself Most Combative honours and the King of the Mountains jersey.
Gough, a Cycling New Zealand men’s endurance representative, said the speed of the stage and some challenging positioning on the gravel made for a tough day, although the orange jersey was a great reward.
“It certainly wasn’t blowing a gale, but there was just enough wind out there to make a few of the boys nervous,” he said.
“It was an incredibly hard, fast start for the first couple of hours, I didn’t see much under 50kmh for the first couple of hours. It was like fireworks for what seemed like hours on end.
“The race was almost to the gravel, let alone beyond the gravel, so positioning was vital. It was my first time riding this stage with the gravel so you’d only really heard what people were saying. It was certainly really loose in the initial hit and I fought my way up there.”
As the stage reached its conclusion, Gough and his Quality Foods Southland teammates went on the attack.
“It was pretty impromptu. It was about 2km to go and we looked around and saw four of us there and we were probably the guys with the most amount of numbers there. You’ve got to give it a crack. Sam was out in front by a big margin, but we went down trying.”
Gough holds a 5sec lead over Jenner and Glenn Haden (Couplands-Booths Logistics), with 10 riders within 10sec of the lead.
Southland’s Marshall Erwood (Central Benchmakers-Willbike), competing in his first home tour, rode his way into the under 23 jersey, taking over from his junior worlds team mate - and roommate this week - James Gardner.
Haden leads the over 35 category and Quality Foods Southland leads the teams classification.
Tomorrow’s stage three takes the race 148km from Riverton along the southern coast and over the Blackmount Hill to Te Anau.