Tempestuous weather lashing lycra-clad riders is synonymous with the PowerNet Tour of Southland – but next week’s race may actually buck the trend.
Gale force winds, driving rain and even unseasonal dumps of snow no doubt linger in the subconscious of riders who have competed previously – in fact, some believe it’s simply part of the Tour’s charm.
But, according to the meteorological gurus at WeatherWatch.co.nz, the forecast for the November 1-6 fixture “doesn’t look too dramatic”.
“There’s a large high covering the Southland region building up to the event which then skirts the region during the week of the race,” head weather analyst Philip Duncan said.
“But forecasts this far in advance can change.”
Riders grappling with Bluff Hill on Monday should at least be cast in sunshine for the struggle, while Tuesday looks equally promising for the trip to Gore.
Blustery conditions usually wreak havoc on the coastal journey to Tuatapere and Wednesday’s predicted frontal band sticks with tradition, bringing increasing winds and a 40 percent chance of rain.
South-westerlies with a few showers should cool off those in the heat of battle on Thursday, with conditions improving on Friday as the cyclists head to Te Anau. Mostly sunny weather is predicted for Saturday’s grand finale.
Tour director Bruce Ross said riders would feel “cheated” if Mother Nature failed serve up some challenges.
“It’s accepted that the weather is an integral part of the PowerNet Tour of Southland and it’s synonymous for it,” he said.
“It’s a common saying among the public `the Tour of Southland’s coming round so the weather’s going to turn to custard’.”
Safety was always paramount and stages were only halted if there was a risk to riders.
“Comfort doesn’t even enter the equation,” Ross said.
“I’ve seen riders finish on Gala Street, their legs blue from being pelted with hail, and half an hour later they’re talking about their team for the next tour – it certainly doesn’t deter them from coming back.
“We’re not blessed with a lot of mountains so the weather is effectively our substitute for that challenge.”
Last year’s winner Heath Blackgrove said the weather was a key factor.
“On paper the Tour doesn’t look that hard but with the weather factor, any day can be an influential day … some year’s I’ve done it and there’s been no respite at all,” he said.