The powerful Calder Stewart/BikeNZ team will wait to see how the Tour of Southland unfolds before deciding who will race for the yellow jersey – but Hayden Roulston is confident it's going to be him.
Fresh from winning silver in the road race at the Commonwealth Games, Roulston will ride in a pseudo national team alongside fellow Pro Tour rider Greg Henderson and United States-based Jeremy Vennell in next week's PowerNet-sponsored race.
All three have won multiple stages on the Tour of Southland, but Roulston won the event three years running before withdrawing on the first day last year after getting caught in a crash. Calder Stewart, which will be managed by Roulston's father Brian, and BikeNZ have worked hard to pull a team together that satisfies international rules on which races professional riders can take part in.
UCI regulations state pro riders like Roulston and Henderson can only ride for their overseas team, their country or their club – effectively making it very difficult for New Zealand's best riders to take part in the country's major stage race.
"I'm really happy to be down here ... we've got a really good team, it's been well put together," Roulston said yesterday after a visit to Bluff School.
"People have really pulled together to make this happen. I think it's a real shame the UCI have even tried to stop it, to be honest. New Zealand isn't France, it isn't Italy – it's a small sport here trying to get coverage."
Roulston is looking forward to the scrap with fellow "super" team Share the Road, which has national road champion Jack Bauer, two-time winner Gordon McCauley and Jeremy Yates.
"Share the Road are obviously strong on paper. It'll be a good tussle. I haven't seen a full start list but of course there's going to be other riders that are going to go good here too.
"The Tour of Southland is a bloody hard race."
Roulston was set to ride in the local "Wednesday Worlds" race on the outskirts of Invercargill last night, a chance for club cyclists to ride alongside an Olympian and Pro Tour rider.
Story courtesy of Nathan Burdon, Southland Times
For the Southland Times' comprehensive coverage of the PowerNet Tour of Southland online, visit tourofsouthland.co.nz