Southlander riders competing in next week’s PowerNet Tour of Southland continue a proud tradition which now spans 54 years.
“The Tour was created in 1956 with the aim of giving Southland riders the opportunity to ride in tours and give them valuable experience – and that’s still the case today,” Tour director Bruce Ross said.
“It gives our emerging riders the chance to ride alongside the likes of internationally-renowned cyclists the calibre of Hayden Roulston and Greg Henderson … how cool is that?
Ross was confident the Southland contingent would represent the province proudly.
“There is a good sprinkling of Southlanders in the field which is fantastic,” he said.
“The Southland community demonstrates a lot of passion for the Tour and seeing our own riders feature in the field contributes to that sense of pride and ownership.”
Cycling Southland chief executive Nick Jeffrey agreed: “The fact the Tour has grown in stature over the years and Southlanders are still flying the flag strongly is outstanding,” he said.
“To see our guys testing themselves against New Zealand’s best, and even pro-tour representatives, is fantastic.”
Former junior World Champion Cameron Karwowski, who is in hot form after completing a winter racing programme in Europe with Bike NZ, joins Matt Marshall, of Otautau, and Lachlan Shannon, of Invercargill, in the Southland Times H and J’s Outdoor World team.
The PowerNet team has Invercargill’s Tom Scully in its ranks, Alexandra’s James Williamson features in the Subway Avanti line-up and Te Anau’s Logan Edgar will ride for Radio Sport.
Team Motatapu has the talents of Invercargill’s Hamish Presbury, Andy Hughson and James Canny to call on, while the Barry Stewart Builders team includes Winton’s Garth Cooper, Invercargill’s Travis Kane and Wanaka’s Scott Cunningham, who impressed with a powerful performance at the Southland road and time trial championships recently.
The 19-team Tour starts on Monday with 114 riders set to battle it out over nine stages encompassing 886km of Southland tarmac.