Searle, Batt lead early

The sixth 40/50 Tour Veteran cycling tour got under way last evening in the Tasman region with an 8km prologue around the Hope area.

Eight teams are contesting the event that contains seven road racing stages covering 325km in total.

The first kilometres were clicked off in an individual time trial where the riders were aided by a favourable tail wind for the first 3km.

They then turned left on to Clover Rd, rising up to the turn into Paton's Rd, which then had a 3km ride into the wind, before the final stretch along Whites Rd.

As expected it was defending winners from the 2011 tours who set the pace - Eileen Searle (Tasman) in the women's race and Nick Batt (Blenheim) in the men's. Searle leads the 50+ women's grade after posting the fastest women's time of 13min 52sec.

Julie Turner (Motueka) leads the 40+ women's grade with a riding time of 14min 12sec, both women riding in the Wildside Travel Team.

Batt who is riding for Nelson Alarms/Alpine Lodge was well clear in the 40+ grade with a blistering 11min 28sec, nearly 40 seconds ahead of team-mate Rob Searle (Tasman). Auckland rider and multiple 40/50 Tour winner Neil Blayney (Auckland) leads the 50+ jersey with a 12min 25sec prologue.

Stage one starts in Hope and takes in Eighty-eight Valley and Reay Saddle to finish at Kohatu Junction. After lunch, stage 2 will take the riders up Golden Downs, over Kerrs Hill to St Arnaud. Visit for results and further information.

The Nelson Mail