Daniel Carruthers is keeping us posted from New Zealand, during his racing days down under.
Credit for the photos goes to envious photography.
Stage 2 update
Deep in the Deep South of New Zealand, the Tour of Southland battle is on; it is a race where all of the top Kiwi riders turn out and a handful of Australians taking on the challenge. The race has a reputation for having plenty of bad weather to dish out at the riders, like crosswinds you’ve never experienced before - ones that would blow you along if you had sails mounted on your bike. Combined with the cold and rain, racing over rough chip seal New Zealand roads makes for a challenging race. Even more challenging when you are riding with some of the most talented riders in the country who know how to ride in the crosswinds.
True to typical Southland weather, the whole stage was buffeted with powerful head and cross-winds. This combined with the aggression of the riders made for a super tense day with riders constantly jockeying for position. You could never stay on the front of the peloton for very long as the pace would speed up and slow down, thus allowing riders from behind to swarm up on the sides and pushing you back. It was a mission in itself to stay up in the top 20-30 positions; which I was doing pretty good with and staying out of trouble. I was going well in the bunch till about the 100km mark, we had just completed the official KOM for the day and it was the calm before the storm that would erupt within the peloton. I was caught out completely. The Avanti team really drilled it once we crested the climb and it was full gas to the right hand corner. After that turn, it was another crosswind fest but felt 10 times stronger because I was riding in the gutter in full force of the wind. I found myself slowly exploding and no longer able to hold the wheel in front of me. Moreover, it was downhill also! It was my first time getting dropped on a downhill and with riders barreling past me on the left. Even one tried to ram me into the ditch as he flew by. I chased hard, but could not recover enough to keep up the power. Eventually I found myself in a group of 10-riders and we ended up taking the wrong turn after battling block head-wind at 28-30km/h. Fortunately the officials gave us an official finish time as we eventually rolled across the finish in Gore under icy cold rain. It was a wake up call for me. Racing in cross-winds requires good positioning and knowledge of what is to come.
Presently I am way down the GC in 93rd position from 108 riders as a result of today’s stage, but there are seven more stages to come so plenty of chances to try to salvage something at the 2014 Tour de Southland. If you are a strong elite rider and never raced before in New Zealand, this is the race to do. It won’t be an easy race thats for sure, but it would be an experience of a lifetime as you take in the stunning beauty of New Zealand’s Southland.