Date: Friday, 27 October 2017

2017 New Zealand track cycling representative Nick Kergozou is set for a different role when the 2017 Tour of Southland begins on Sunday.

The 21-year-old claimed the green sprint ace jersey after dominating the sprint points on stage one last year and held on throughout the gruelling week long tour.

"That was a different perspective, you had to try and get out in the break and then steal those points," he said."So this year I am more looking at relaxing and trying to follow the general classification moves and see what I can do maybe in a general classification aspect and maybe get a stage win, so it will be a different perspective for me and the team."

The Southland rider was initially trying to put together a team of local riders for the 2017 SBS Tour of Southland, but ended up completing the six-team roster with two North Island riders.

Kergozou will be joined by Southland team-mates Luke Macpherson, Josh Haggerty and teenager Samuel Miller, along with New Plymouth's Jakob Lester and fellow track rider Jared Gray from Hamilton, in a team with a familiar feel.

"We were trying to have a full Southland team, but it's quite hard to find the numbers, so we have got four pretty good solid Southlanders in there and then I have brought two of my mates along so it is quite a unique team to have best mates and mates all through it," he said.

"I know what each of those boys can do, everyone has influenced each other in the team and I think the team is going to get on really well together."

Kergozou put the Tour of Southland into his training schedule so he wouldn't miss coming home, as he uses the race as a stepping stone towards potential selection in the New Zealand track cycling team for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

The Cambridge-based rider has been hitting the roads of North America, training in the United States and competing in criterium races including big money races in the BC Superweek in Canada, featuring nine races with a total of $NZ 200,000 up for grabs.

"We headed over to California spent about a month and a bit there training in Santa Monica in the hills, so that was a really big block for me at adapting myself into the climbing, that went great, and then went to Canada BC Superweek that was a week of super crits and raced there," he said.

"Going there racing was a big learning curve, crit racing is a lot different but I got a big block training of strength on the hills and then topped it off with a bit of crit racing, I came back home and have been getting back on the road."

The New Zealand representative has an exciting track cycling season ahead of him if everything goes according to plan, with the Oceania Championships starting on November 20 in Cambridge, followed by World Cup events in Canada and Chile.

"They are the targets building on to Commonwealth Games, that is the ultimate picture now.  All those including Southland are going to be stepping stones to get to the Comm Games," he said.

The 2017 Tour of Southland starts on Sunday, October 29 and finishes on Saturday, November 4.

Photo and article courtesy Stuff

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