Words by Ben Marshall
This article was originally published by Today’s Plan
Today’s stage from Invercargill to Gore got off to a very fast start with the front group covering 48.5 km in the first hour.
With lots of 90 degree corners and just enough wind there was a threatening general classification split with 9 riders including the yellow jersey rider Brad Evans forcing themselves off the front and Robbie Hucker and Liam Atcherson missing out.
The Barry Stewart team rallied quickly though and the group never got more than 45 seconds . The hard chase was causing the peloton to fracture and when the front race came back together there where only 40 odd riders left.
After a short lull the attacks started with a combination of riders looking for GC time and stage wins trying their luck before the group of Joe Cooper (ART), Nick Bain (TSR) and Matt Zenovich (CSD) got away.
With many teams missing riders in the front group there was no real chase organised and the gap steadily moved out to 4 minutes by the 110 km mark. the Kia Ascot Park Hotel team took over the chase however the front group where motoring and where never looked in danger of being caught.
Cooper attacked the leading trio inside the last 30 km and soloed to victory, hit other breakaway companions finished off the podium and although there where a few splits in the front group coming into the finish they where left to fill the minor placing.
The only 2 changes to the overall classifications today where Joe Cooper moving into the KOM Jersey and Nick Bain retaking the U23 Jersey.
The tour concludes with a short time trial tomorrow morning before a 80 km stage in the afternoon. The rider to watch tomorrow will likely be Robbie Hucker who is only 14 seconds off yellow. It’s not uncommon for the leaders jersey to change hands on the final day here at Southland, the race for yellow will definitely go down to the wire.