Southland cyclist Matt Zenovich is hoping to finish higher up the podium at the Tour de Lakes cycle race this weekend.
The 23-year-old was one of the pre-race favourites in 2016 and finished third overall, behind winner Reon Park from Canterbury and North Otago's Tim Rush.
Park's absence this year provides the opportunity for the likes of Zenovich, Rush and other A Grade riders to get their names engraved on the original trophies from the 1960s Queenstown tours organised by the Glengarry Amateur Cycling Club, alongside Brian Fowler, Chris Gemmell, Glen McLeay and Gordon McCauley.
Invercargill's Matt Zenovich in the individual time trial of the 2016 Tour of Southland, is looking forward to the 2017 Tour de Lakes.
Zenovich returns for another crack at the title, which takes place in the stunning Southern Lakes region.
"I like the tour it is a good tour and good area to run a tour," he said.
Invercargill's Matt Zenovich was the first Southlander home in the 2016 Tour of Southland.
The former Avanti rider who finished second in the time trial last year, had to ride using training wheels after a sponsorship issue, but he is hopeful that returning to his race wheels will boost his chances in 2017.
"The time trial is a big one and the finishing climb up Moke Lake, they are the hard ones," he said.
"This year's a bit different, I will see if I can punch a good one in."
The race takes riders around some stunning scenery, but according to Zenovich, there isn't much of an opportunity to take in the breathtaking views.
"Not that you ever really get to see much of it when you are racing," he said.
"You can be anywhere in the world, but if you are racing you don't see anything."
The bike store worker has had a quieter 2017 competing more in local races than overseas.
He raced in the nationals and NZ Cycle Classic earlier this year, after a busy 2016 when he was the top placed Southlander in the Tour of Southland and he competed overseas.
Zenovich finished with the third fastest time in the 102km Cycling Southland Memorial Road Race recently, behind Josh Haggerty and Corbin Strong.
Riders from as far away as Tahiti will be participating in the four-day Tour de Lakes, which starts on Friday in Cromwell.
In an intriguing match up, promising Wanaka female rider Mikayla Harvey will be competing against her father Patrick in the B Grade.
Photo and article courtesy Stuff