Monday, November 9, 2009

Final Days at Southland

Stage 8 marked the final day here in New Zealand at the Tour of Southland. We were still in the hunt for something special but Mike started to get a bit sick and it seemed doubtful that we could walk away with a stage win. BUT...Bang, Stage 8 ended up being our day as both Mike and I made it over the KOM (where I got 4th) of the day along with Chadwick, Heath, Bauer and U23 leader Findlay. The rest of the field started to split off the back. We were hammering in the tailwind and I got a new speed-record I believe: 38.2mph for 24minutes. We did the 79K (50m) stage in 1h29min! I was red-zone towards the end and had to let Mike and the other 4 guys roll away after I sprinted for some intermediate sprint points. I settled in a group of ~25 guys with the Bissel duo, Landis, MacCauley and the 2nd GC guy + teammates Greg + Kevin of course! Mike took the stage ahead of Chadwick and I ended up 10th on the day. Peter Jackson was one happy plumber that day!

After a few hours of rest at the Middle Pub in Winton (without the beer or fish'n chips) we got ready for the final 65K into downtown Invercargill. This was NOT a easy, all-things-set, last stage. As soon as the official's flag goes down, 100 guys start racing = attacking. The gale winds were ridiculous once again and 15k into the stage we had probably 5 different groups all over the road. After I gave it my all this morning to help Mike I was officially "fried" for the rest of the day. We were going 8mph on a downhill section at one point...that's when I realized this will be a tough one and I decided to "just ride it out" with a group of ~30guys to the finish @ Queens Park. Mike ended up 13th or 14th on the day and both Greg and Kevin finished a few spots ahead of me. I ended up somewhere in 41st GC and 12th in the Sprints. Oh well, it's over now. Thanks to Robert, Graeme & July, Sue & husband, Peter & wife, and everyone else involved in making things easier for Mike, Greg, Seth, Kevin and me down there.

I decided I definitively have to come back to this beautiful country one day. Probably without a bike and 3 weeks of time to explore everything here.

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