Perth-based Alex McGregor is targeting a strong National Racing Series across the Ditch after defending his Tour de Lakes title during the long Easter weekend.
McGregor, who grew up in Alexandra, spent time in Dunedin but has since shifted to Western Australia, where much of his family live, returned to Central Otago and claimed the Vital Signs-sponsored four-day race by the narrowest of margins after a gripping finish from Glenorchy to Moke Lake.
After leader and 2012 winner Daniel Barry self-destructed on the penultimate stage from Queenstown to Glenorchy in the morning, it was up to Brad Evans and McGregor to duke it out on the final stage, with McGregor taking the yellow jersey by one second.
The pair had laid down an early marker when they produced identical times in the time trial during Friday's prologue.
"After the prologue it was quite bizarre to have equal tour leaders," McGregor said.
"That sort of shook things up in the first road stage because it didn't fall on one guy to do the chasing or defend the leader's jersey. It was a different scenario to race under, we sort of shared the workload at times."
McGregor had been prepared to settle for a place on the podium before Barry lost 7min 45sec on the 45km beat out to Glenorchy.
"[Dan's] a really nice guy and I've got a lot of respect for him because he's a really strong bike rider. I think he might have just gone out too hard [on Saturday] defending the jersey."
McGregor, who has also claimed a round of the Benchmark Series this month, rides for Perth cycling team Satalyst Giant.
In his spare time he helps his grandfather with a lawnmowing round but most of his focus is on developing as a rider in the ideal climate and strong racing community that Perth provides.
"They are happy with the way I'm going so, hopefully, I can keep the ball rolling into the National Racing Series." McGregor has not really threatened during the Tour of Southland but has ambitions to be a genuine threat to the yellow jersey later this year.
"I've never really had consistency of training going into a Tour of Southland. This year I'll look to do it a bit differently, and obviously have the backing of the racing from the NRS."
Sophie Williamson won the women's race, clearing out from the combined ladies and C-grade bunch on the final stage, to also take the Queen of the Mountains and sprint ace classifications.
Luke Macpherson was the first Southland rider home, finishing fourth overall and claiming the Frank O'Conner Cup.
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