Birthday boy wins Tour of Southland prologue

By Nathan Burdon

Otago's Brad Evans leads the PowerNet team on their way to winning the 4.2km 2017 SBS Bank Tour of Southland prologue around Invercargill's Queens Park. Photo: Studio Jubb

Aucklander Roman van Uden was handed the perfect birthday present by his PowerNet team mates when they claimed victory in the 2017 SBS Bank Tour of Southland prologue Sunday.

As first rider across the line in the 4.2km team trial trial around Invercargill’s Queens Park, van Uden will wear the yellow jersey in the 170km opening stage from Invercargill to Lumsden tomorrow.

PowerNet, which includes 2015 winner Brad Evans, took the prologue by nearly 5sec from the Mike Greer Homes team, with Blindz Direct in third , 6.36sec in arrears.

“We brought a good team here this year, all the boys are pretty even and I’ve never done such a smooth prologue around here before,” van Uden, who turned 29 today, said.

“I’ve done it maybe nine times and this was the best, so I knew we were on a good time. We had some strong boys, some strong time trialists, so we are really happy with the win.”

While the prologue provides teams with a chance to shake the nerves and stretch the legs, it could also have a bearing if racing remains close this week, van Uden said.

“You don’t want to be too far behind going into the rest of the week because if it comes down to the (Coronet Peak) climb there may be only a few seconds in it later in the week,” he said.

“I think about four years ago when James Oram (2013) won it was pretty light winds and it came down to the climb up Coronet. Hopefully with Bluff later in the week compared to previous years it might change things. Friday’s Gore stage is a long, flat day and if there’s been a team in front since Wednesday it could be tough for them to hang on and we’ll be giving them hell if we aren’t still in the lead.”

With team mate Evans considered the favourite for this year’s race, PowerNet know they will be watched closely this week.

“There’s certainly a few names highlighted in the book and Brad is one of them,” van Uden said.

“There’s a lot of guys who haven’t won the tour that have got some pressure on them to do so - Michael Vink, Michael Torckler, they were both in yellow last year.”

And there will also be plenty of attention on the birthday boy as he wheels away from the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome tomorrow at 10am, having featured heavily in the stage to Lumsden in the past.

“I’ve made the break every year for the last four years on the first stage and won two of them from the break so I don’t think it’s naturally a bunch sprint - there’s a 50/50 change it stays away in my books.”

The 2017 SBS Bank Tour of Southland includes seven stages over six days, finishing in Invercargill on November 4.

Results: PowerNet 4m 45.08sec; 2 Mike Greer Homes @4.91sec; 3 Blindz Direct @6.36sec; 4 Placemakers @8.11sec; 5 Team Skoda Racing @8.41sec; 6 Aardvark Excavators  Ltd @8.53sec; 7 Kia Motors-Ascot Park Hotel @8.69sec; 8 ITM @11.69sec; 9 Creation Signs L&M Mining Group Ricoh@13.05sec; 10 Wheelworks Handcrafted Wheels @14.12sec; 11 TotalPOS @17.30sec; 12 Giant Lakeside @18.20sec; 13 Central Placemakers-Willbike @20.89sec; 14 Calder Stewart @21.63sec; 15 Talbot Forest Cheese-Ultimo @22.05sec
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