Now I’m getting excited.
The start of the 2010 PowerNet Tour of Southland is a fortnight away. Nineteen six-man teams have been confirmed to start this year’s tour. Most attention has centred on two all-star teams – Calder Stewart/BikeNZ and Share The Road, but as you cast your eye over the field you quickly realise this will be more than a two-horse race.
We are delighted to bring two of our international superstars Greg Henderson and Hayden Roulston to the Southland sporting public. It is thanks only to the outstanding support we have received from Calder Stewart and the tremendous work on the international front by BikeNZ which has combined to make it possible.
After losing UCI classification a few short months ago the door to Pro-Tour riders competing in the PowerNet Tour opened slightly. Calder Stewart set its sights on this opportunity immediately (ie: that very day) and BikeNZ has negotiated the sometimes murky waters of the UCI rulebook to ensure we deliver the result which serves all masters. We can showcase our premier bike riders in a way which ensures the riders’ and our event’s future international aspirations are not damaged in the process. A brilliant result.
Many of us sat glued to our TV sets last Sunday night watching the brilliant performance by the NZ mens’ team in the Commonwealth Games Road Race. This phenomenal team effort which ultimately led to a silver medal for Roulston has been hailed as one of the great team performances. Through the first week in November we will feature the bulk of that team battling each other around Southland’s highways and that is truly mouth-watering prospect. Gordon McCauley and last year’s runner-up Jack Bauer line up in Share The Road colours and Clinton Avery in Ascot Park Hotel.
But wait, there’s more. Jeremy Vennell has been in blistering form for his Bissell Pro Cycling team and boosts the Calder Stewart/Bike NZ stocks further. Subway-Avanti again line up with no weak links in their team, featuring leader Joe Cooper, new Trek/Livestrong signing Michael Vink and Alexandra’s James Williamson. Benchmark Homes has dominated the Benchmark Series with teammates James McCoy and another Trek/Livestrong acquisition Josh Atkins battling all season for top honours. Pure Black Racing will take its first steps down the path of what it hopes will be NZ’s first Pro-Tour racing team in a few years time. PowerNet features the returning Tom Scully alongside fellow NZ reps Myron Simpson and Shane Archbold while George Bennett who has been in hot form will be one to watch in Team SVS colours. And the local flag will be flown as high as ever with Cam Karwowski in the form of his young career along his Southland Times/H&Js Outdoor World team mate Matt Marshall returning from a winter racing campaign across the Tasman.
This is a whistle-stop trip over our field of 2010 and I apologise as I don’t have the space to mention every story-line. But can you see why I’m getting excited?