Michael Vink climbs to Bluff Hill stage win and yellow jersey in Tour of Southland cycle race
A strong five-rider breakaway and a successful hill effort paved the way for a Tour of Southland stage win and yellow jersey for Canterbury's Michael Vink.
The Mike Greer Homes 24-year-old climbed his way up the general classification and backed up a strong fourth place on stage three up Coronet Peak, to claim honours on stage four from Invercargill to Bluff Hill via Edendale.
"It was a typical Bluff stage really, all action from the start, it was a new circuit so it was always going to be interesting to see how it would play out," Vink said.
"It is kind of a stage that has always had a bit of something special for me, finally to win it is really cool and to take the yellow jersey is a bonus."
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Thursday's 148km SBS Tour of Southland stage was a contrasting one.
It started with high paced racing, as the peloton averaged 50km/h in the early stages in the sunshine and a tail wind and finished in the driving rain and a tough climb up Bluff Hill.
In the early stages, a group of 20 riders broke clear at Woodlands, before they stretched their lead.
The lead group included Powernet's Sjoerd Kouwenhoven and Matt Zenovich, four-time champion Hayden Roulston, Kia Motors-Ascot Park riders Alex Frame, Travis McCabe, Taylor Gunman and Steven Lampier, Creation Signs Aaron Gate, Mike Greer Homes pair Regan Gough and Michael Vink, along with Central Benchmakers rider Liam Aitcheson from Alexandra.
They stretched their lead to 1:36 heading through Edendale and extended it to more than two minutes as the riders entered Wyndham.
Former champion Roulston made a series of attempted breaks on his own in the crosswinds between Wyndham and Glenham, but was unable to get enough support from the leading bunch riders a third of the way into the stage.
A group of five strong riders then broke clear at Waimahaka, for what would be a stage defining breakaway.
Kouwenhoven, Frame, Gate, Roulston and Vink opened up a substantial lead on the field as the wind picked up.
They extended their lead to nearly four minutes at one stage in the head and cross winds and rain heading towards Bluff.
"It is really hard because you don't really know what is happening behind, whether they are fully tapped out or whether they are cruising and have it under control or what was happening," Vink said.
"There was a wee moment there when it was coming down and I was a bit worried, because we still had 60km to go and it was all head wind."
Disaster struck for Frame who punctured with three kilometres to go, to leave it as a four cyclist race as the Bluff Hill climb began.
The remaining four leaders stuck together for the first half of the climb, before Vink broke clear, to finish ahead of Roulston, Gate and Dutch rider Kouwenhoven.
"The first half of the climb was a bit slow, I didn't know who was feeling good and who wasn't and who wanted the stage," he said.
"But I think I was feeling better than I thought I was and the first time I put in a wee dig I got a bit of a gap and from there it was a time trial to the top really."
In the general classification, Vink has opened up a 2min 14sec lead over Michael Torckler (Vantage Windows and Doors), with Placemakers rider Hayden Roulston third at 2min 22sec heading into the final two days of the tour.
Invercargill - Edendale - Tisbury - Bluff
1. Michael Vink (MGH) 3h39m16s; 2. Hayden Roulston (PMK) at 30s; 3. Aaron Gate (CLM) at 34s; 4.
Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (NED) (PNL) at 49s; 5. Alex Frame (KAP) at 01m04s; 6. Michael Torckler
(VWD) at 03m14s; 7. Ryan Christensen (ORF) at 03m14s; 8. Drew Morey (AUS) (BSB) at 03m17s; 9.
Liam Aitcheson (CBW) at 03m24s; 10. Ayden Toovey (AUS) (TIN) at 03m38s; 11. Matt Zenovich
(PNL) at 03m51s; 12. Hamish Bond (VWD) at 03m55s; 13. Travis McCabe (USA) (KAP) at 04m24s;
14. Jasper Hamelink (NED) (CST) at 04m29s; 15. Taylor Gunman (KAP) at 04m32s; 16. Anthony
Chapman (CLM) at 04m51s; 17. Nick Kergozou (BSB) at 05m07s; 18. James Fouche (CLM) at
05m12s; 19. Nick Miller (BSB) at 05m12s; 20. Steven Lampier (GBR) (KAP) at 05m29s; 21. Regan
Gough (MGH) at 05m30s; 22. Alex West (TSR) at 05m43s; 23. Jake Marryatt (ACA) at 05m59s; 24.
Ollie Jones (OPC) at 05m59s; 25. Ben Johnstone (MGH) at 06m38s;
1. Michael Vink (MGH) 15h33m12s; 2. Michael Torckler (VWD) at 02m14s; 3. Hayden Roulston
(PMK) at 02m22s; 4. Aaron Gate (CLM) at 02m23s; 5. Alex Frame (KAP) at 03m04s; 6. Hamish Bond
(VWD) at 03m31s; 7. Drew Morey (AUS) (BSB) at 03m51s; 8. Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (NED) (PNL) at
03m56s; 9. Ryan Christensen (ORF) at 04m18s; 10. Matt Zenovich (PNL) at 05m02s; 11. Taylor
Gunman (KAP) at 05m47s; 12. Travis McCabe (USA) (KAP) at 05m48s; 13. Ayden Toovey (AUS)
(TIN) at 07m08s; 14. Steven Lampier (GBR) (KAP) at 08m30s; 15. Liam Aitcheson (CBW) at 12m42s;
16. Regan Gough (MGH) at 12m44s; 17. Alex West (TSR) at 13m15s; 18. Ollie Jones (OPC) at
14m19s; 19. Tim Rush (MGH) at 14m33s; 20. Thery Schir (SUI) (CST) at 14m34s; 21. Jake Marryatt
(ACA) at 14m38s; 22. Jasper Hamelink (NED) (CST) at 15m25s; 23. Anthony Chapman (CLM) at
15m26s; 24. Brendan Cole (AUS) (TIN) at 15m55s; 25. Lukas Ruegg (SUI) (CST) at 17m39s;
1. Kia Motors - Ascot Park Hotel 46h44m36s; 2. PowerNet at 02m04s; 3. Mike Greer Homes at
11m24s; 4. Barry Stewart Builders at 11m38s; 5. Vantage Windows & Doors at 14m59s; 6. Creation
Signs - L&M Group Ricoh at 24m14s; 7. Placemakers at 26m02s; 8. Calder Stewart at 31m26s; 9.
Olivers Real Food Racing at 39m38s; 10. Team Skoda Racing at 46m10s;
1. Nick Kergozou (BSB) 35; 2. Regan Gough (MGH) 27; 3. Aaron Gate (CLM) 21; 4. Liam Magennis
(AUS) (TIN) 13; 5. James Fouche (CLM) 13; 6. Morgan Smith (BSB) 12; 7. Michael Vink (MGH) 10; 8.
Hayden Roulston (PMK) 10; 9. James Williamson (CLM) 10; 10. Josh Harrison (AUS) (OPC) 9;
King of Mountains
1. Tim Rush (MGH) 26; 2. Ollie Jones (OPC) 18; 3. Michael Vink (MGH) 13; 4. Aaron Gate (CLM) 13;
5. Hayden Roulston (PMK) 11; 6. Brendan Cole (AUS) (TIN) 11; 7. Sam Cox (AUS) (TIN) 11; 8.
Michael Torckler (VWD) 10; 9. Morgan Smith (BSB) 10; 10. James Fouche (CLM) 8;