The Tour of Southland’s notoriously challenging weather finally bared its teeth on stage four of the SBS Bank-sponsored race today.
The peloton survived 40kmh winds, rain and the occasional bout of sunshine during a daunting 148.5km stage from Invercargill to a hilltop finish at Bluff.
Christchurch’s Michael Vink (Mike Greer Homes) won the stage and now has a 2min 14sec lead over Michael Torckler (Vantage Windows and Doors), with Placemakers rider Hayden Roulston third at 2min 22sec heading into the final two days of the tour.
“(The weather) wasn’t so bad for me, because it kept the group together and kept us rolling,” Vink said.
“I knew (Hayden Roulston) was keen to get away, but that headwind forced everyone together, which was actually quite good for someone like me.”
A new route for the Bluff Hill stage saw the peloton averaging 50kmh through the first part of the stage from Invercargill to Edendale and Wyndham.
However, as the race turned back towards Invercargill, a strong headwind and freezing showers were being thrown into the faces of the riders.
It was a 20-strong breakaway group full of prominent names which first set the pace, but then Vink, Roulston, Alex Frame (Kia Motors-Ascot Park Hotel), Aaron Gate (Creation Signs-L&M Group Ricoh) and Dutch rider Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (PowerNet) shuffled their way forward and took control of the stage.
The quintet took their charge all the way to Bluff before losing Frame to a puncture with 3km to go and then Vink jumped away midway up the Motu Pohue climb.
“It was a typical Bluff stage really, all action from the start,” Vink said.
“It was a new circuit, so it was always going to be interesting to see how it would play out. I think everyone knew things were going to happen, and they sure did and I’m happy to profit from it.”
“It was just the right mix – every team had someone there except for the yellow jersey so we all had something to ride for. From there is split and there was no letting off. I was lucky to have a team mate in Regan Gough, so he did a lot of work for me.”
Victory at Bluff was a significant result for the multiple national under 23 road race champion.
“I’ve been third on this stage about six years ago, it was my first tour,” Vink said.
“It’s a stage which has always held something a bit special for me so to get a result is really cool and to take the yellow jersey is a bonus.”
Vink said the Mike Greer Homes team would sit down and formulate a plan for the remainder of the tour.
“We’ll have to look at the weather. Most tours you can set a plan, but this one you have to look at the weather first. The boys are all strong – having won the team time trial we know we’ve got the strength in the legs so that gives us confidence.”
Tim Rush (Mike Greer Homes) leads the King of the Mountain standings, with Nick Kergozou (Barry Stewart Builders) retaining his lead in the sprint classification.
Australian Drew Morey (Barry Stewart Builders) is the leading under 23 rider and Anthony Chapman (Creation Signs-L&M Mining Ricoh) is the leading over 35 rider.
Hayden Roulston earned Most Combative honours for his work in the break.
The tour continues with a 151km stage from Invercargill to Gore tomorrow, followed by the individual time trial and final 77km stage on Saturday.
SBS Bank Tour of Southland
Results from the fourth stage of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland.
Invercargill - Edendale - Tisbury - Bluff
1. Michael Vink (MGH) 3h39m16s; 2. Hayden Roulston (PMK) at 30s; 3. Aaron Gate (CLM) at 34s; 4. Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (NED) (PNL) at 49s; 5. Alex Frame (KAP) at 01m04s; 6. Michael Torckler (VWD) at 03m14s; 7. Ryan Christensen (ORF) at 03m14s; 8. Drew Morey (AUS) (BSB) at 03m17s; 9. Liam Aitcheson (CBW) at 03m24s; 10. Ayden Toovey (AUS) (TIN) at 03m38s; 11. Matt Zenovich (PNL) at 03m51s; 12. Hamish Bond (VWD) at 03m55s; 13. Travis McCabe (USA) (KAP) at 04m24s; 14. Jasper Hamelink (NED) (CST) at 04m29s; 15. Taylor Gunman (KAP) at 04m32s; 16. Anthony Chapman (CLM) at 04m51s; 17. Nick Kergozou (BSB) at 05m07s; 18. James Fouche (CLM) at 05m12s; 19. Nick Miller (BSB) at 05m12s; 20. Steven Lampier (GBR) (KAP) at 05m29s; 21. Regan Gough (MGH) at 05m30s; 22. Alex West (TSR) at 05m43s; 23. Jake Marryatt (ACA) at 05m59s; 24. Ollie Jones (OPC) at 05m59s; 25. Ben Johnstone (MGH) at 06m38s;
1. Michael Vink (MGH) 15h33m12s; 2. Michael Torckler (VWD) at 02m14s; 3. Hayden Roulston (PMK) at 02m22s; 4. Aaron Gate (CLM) at 02m23s; 5. Alex Frame (KAP) at 03m04s; 6. Hamish Bond (VWD) at 03m31s; 7. Drew Morey (AUS) (BSB) at 03m51s; 8. Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (NED) (PNL) at 03m56s; 9. Ryan Christensen (ORF) at 04m18s; 10. Matt Zenovich (PNL) at 05m02s; 11. Taylor Gunman (KAP) at 05m47s; 12. Travis McCabe (USA) (KAP) at 05m48s; 13. Ayden Toovey (AUS) (TIN) at 07m08s; 14. Steven Lampier (GBR) (KAP) at 08m30s; 15. Liam Aitcheson (CBW) at 12m42s; 16. Regan Gough (MGH) at 12m44s; 17. Alex West (TSR) at 13m15s; 18. Ollie Jones (OPC) at 14m19s; 19. Tim Rush (MGH) at 14m33s; 20. Thery Schir (SUI) (CST) at 14m34s; 21. Jake Marryatt (ACA) at 14m38s; 22. Jasper Hamelink (NED) (CST) at 15m25s; 23. Anthony Chapman (CLM) at 15m26s; 24. Brendan Cole (AUS) (TIN) at 15m55s; 25. Lukas Ruegg (SUI) (CST) at 17m39s;
1. Kia Motors - Ascot Park Hotel 46h44m36s; 2. PowerNet at 02m04s; 3. Mike Greer Homes at 11m24s; 4. Barry Stewart Builders at 11m38s; 5. Vantage Windows & Doors at 14m59s; 6. Creation Signs - L&M Group Ricoh at 24m14s; 7. Placemakers at 26m02s; 8. Calder Stewart at 31m26s; 9. Olivers Real Food Racing at 39m38s; 10. Team Skoda Racing at 46m10s;
1. Nick Kergozou (BSB) 35; 2. Regan Gough (MGH) 27; 3. Aaron Gate (CLM) 21; 4. Liam Magennis (AUS) (TIN) 13; 5. James Fouche (CLM) 13; 6. Morgan Smith (BSB) 12; 7. Michael Vink (MGH) 10; 8. Hayden Roulston (PMK) 10; 9. James Williamson (CLM) 10; 10. Josh Harrison (AUS) (OPC) 9;
King of Mountains
1. Tim Rush (MGH) 26; 2. Ollie Jones (OPC) 18; 3. Michael Vink (MGH) 13; 4. Aaron Gate (CLM) 13; 5. Hayden Roulston (PMK) 11; 6. Brendan Cole (AUS) (TIN) 11; 7. Sam Cox (AUS) (TIN) 11; 8. Michael Torckler (VWD) 10; 9. Morgan Smith (BSB) 10; 10. James Fouche (CLM) 8;
Caption - pic courtesy of James Jubb/Envious Photography
Christchurch's Michael Vink winning stage four of the 2016 SBS Bank Tour of Southland from Invercargill to Bluff Hill.