Bank steps in to sponsor southern tour

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 29/08/2013
Tour of Southland
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

GOOD FIT: (From left) Tour of Southland race director Bruce Ross, SBS Bank chief executive Ross Smith and Cycling Southland chief executive Nick Jeffrey.

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SBS Bank will sponsor the Tour of Southland for the next three years.

Chief executive Ross Smith said the long-running bike race was a good fit for the bank.

"The key for us is that it's another iconic Southland event. We certainly didn't want to see it disappear from the calendar so when [Cycling Southland] approached us, we were keen to talk to them," Smith said.

"We get approached a lot ... so you've just got to try and balance what [money] you have available and make sure it goes into the areas you want it to go. This to us was a perfect match for our organisation."

SBS Bank replaces PowerNet, who had supported the race for 12 years.

There were concerns that Cycling Southland had struggled to find a major sponsor for this year's race, which runs from November 3 to 9.

Smith said details of the new sponsorship agreement were confidential, although it would be a six-figure sum over the three years.

The bank's new deal would not have an immediate affect on its other sponsorship, he said.

"We just want the tour to remain a success," Smith said.

"I would imagine as time goes on that may change. We may want to get more interested, we may want to make certain that we are leveraging our sponsorship to the max.

"We are not cyclists so we aren't going to be overly tough on them."

One of the bank's subsidiaries, Southsure Insurance, will sponsor a team again this year after its debut in 2012.

Cycling Southland chief executive Nick Jeffrey said they hoped to develop the tour with the support of the bank.

Course changes were already discussed, including a Coronet Peak finish, with the route to be finalised soon.

The Southland Times will sponsor a new jersey classification for the most aggressive rider on each stage.

There had been a good early response from prospective teams, including Node4 [which won the title last year] with Mike Northey and American trade team Bissell Pro Cycling.

Several European riders who were involved last year signalled their intention to return.

A BikeNZ camp for endurance track riders will be held in Invercargill during November as part of preparations for the Oceana track championships at the SIT Zerofees Velodrome and those riders would likely be involved in the tour.

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- The Southland Times

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