Scully seeks tour tonic after letdown
Pop quiz. Who was the last Southlander to win a stage of the Tour of Southland?
Answer: a 49-year-old John Alabaster, who had only taken up cycling at the age of 35, streaked to victory in a 15km time trial between Balfour and Riversdale in 2003.
Before that, Alabaster had also been the last Southlander to take an individual road stage when he claimed a win in 1995 after breaking a collarbone a couple of days before.
Two stage wins in 17 years. No pressure then, Scud.
Tom "Scud" Scully, the Cromwell-raised cyclist who came to Invercargill to ride the velodrome, has had a year of highs that has ended with a resounding low.
After riding for Garmin's development team, Scully picked up one of two stagiare, or apprentice, rides with the professional Garmin-Sharp team for the final races of the season.
Just when it looked like he had the cycling world at his feet, that world is undergoing a strange sort of implosion as recessionary forces and the shrapnel that continues to fly in the wake of the Lance Armstrong investigation have seen teams shed sponsors like empty bidons.
There's now no space for Scully at Garmin, and the development team he rode for has folded.
"I had an awesome time and really learnt a lot from them, which is a huge benefit to doing that sort of thing with those sort of guys," Scully said of his stagiaire role to end the season.
"I had really good reports from some of the staff on the team but [team director] Jonathan Vaughters was just looking for a climber and I'm not necessarily a climber. There were no bad terms, it was left on a good note, but they weren't going to offer me a job.
"There's a good 60 riders from the world tour and another 25 from pro continental level who are looking for jobs. Sponsors are pulling out left, right and centre. It's not the easiest time to be trying to get a job in cycling."
It leaves Scully back in Southland and with a chance to break that hoodoo that hangs over local riders.
Scully was the leading local last year, finishing 14th overall and fourth in the under-23 standings.
He will be riding alongside 2009 winner Heath Blackgrove in a young PowerNet team that is eager to continue the success it experienced when boosting Josh Atkins to victory last year.
"It's been a long season but I'm motivated for it because it's a good chance to ride with all the Kiwi boys again and I haven't had too much of an opportunity to do that for a while," Scully said.
"PowerNet put up a good environment for us and it's good fun, hopefully we can do it again."
The forecast for next week looks to be dominated by westerly winds and while the rain, and worse, doesn't appear to be to significant, there's no doubt the tour's old friends will make an appearance.
"Growing up training on these roads, you just get used to it, it doesn't faze me coming back to the weather," Scully said.
The tour starts tomorrow with the prologue individual time trial around Queens Park from 4.30pm.
The first road stage on Monday takes the race 160km from Invercargill to Lumsden.
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