Date: Wednesday, 28 October 2015
Posted by: Cycling Southland

Bruce Ross 31 Years TourBruce Ross thinks it may have been a case of picking on the small guy in 1985.

Ross was part of the Tour of Southland committee which met at his home in Invercargill for one of their regular meetings.

On the agenda was a search for a new tour manager.

Graham Sycamore had been selected to manage the New Zealand cycling team to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and had to cast his role of Tour of Southland race manager to one side.

"I can still see it going around the meeting room, which happened to be at my house, and we were trying to find out who was going to succeed [Sycamore] for that year. I think they ended up picking on the small guy," Ross said.

"I got entrusted with the job thinking I was taking a lap until he came back. But that was 1985 and I am still doing it, it has been a long lap."

This year's Tour of Southland is Ross' 31st in the Tour of Southland manager's seat. That is on top of the 15 years he was involved with tour as a judge prior to 1985. 

He has watched the event grow year by year. In 1985 it was a three-day race, now it is held over seven days.

The evolution of the race has meant Ross' role has also developed, it has gone from a voluntary position to his job at Cycling Southland.

For Ross the planning starts almost immediately after one tour ends to ensure everything is in place for the next year.

"[The workload] increases over the year. It is like a jigsaw puzzle, it all has to fit together to what you see at the end of the day when it is complete. There is a lot of work in it and a lot of areas - traffic management, course planning, sponsorship, accommodation, team riders; everything. But it is worth it."

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Much of the increased workload had centred around extra traffic management planning, he said.

"A lady was killed a few years ago in the Le Race and there was a court case from it and it changed the scene of traffic management in New Zealand. There is a huge involvement now, to create an event like this you need a mini bible to make it work," he said.

Much of Ross' work is done in the lead up to the race but he admits the week does go by in a bit of a blur.

"It is very satisfying, there is no doubt that. It is a huge team effort," he said.

"I've made a huge amount of friends from it. It is always fascinating to hear from people who have ridden the tour and remember the tour fondly. Making friends is a great part of sport and those friendships are certainly valued by me."

"There has been a lot of work but I enjoyed it, all the same. We are always conscious of succession in the position and keep looking out for an ideal replacement at some stage."

The 2015 SBS Tour of Southland starts on Sunday.

OUR COVERAGE

Checkout Friday's edition of The Southland Times where we will have a bumper special 2015 SBS Tour of Southland preview tabloid. Also keep an eye on www.southlandtimes.co.nz in the lead up to the race and throughout the week for more coverage.

The Tour of Southland starts on Sunday and will run through to Saturday.

 Photo and article courtesy Stuff

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