Michael Northey has won the PowerNet Tour of Southland after an aggressive effort saw him claw back a 17 second deficit in the final 79km stage which was won by Hayden Roulston.
I still cant believe I’ve done it – I’ve done this race eight times and I never thought I’d win it.
Northey (Node 4 - Subaru) has taken the win from former leader Carter Jones (Bissell) after the American did not make the decisive selection which saw the overall general classification change in the final, shortened stage from Winton to Invercargill.
“It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever won," said Northey.
"I still cant believe I’ve done it – I’ve done this race eight times and I never thought I’d win it.”
Northey lost time to Jones in the morning's 12km individual time trial, but was optimistic about the final stage.
"I thought I had a good shot. Its always hard to know in the time trial when you haven’t raced against some of the guys before, how they are going to perform. I was pretty happy with how I went. It was more about keeping it close so that we could have a good crack this afternoon – and it worked."
After an aggressive start which saw many unsettled groups jostle for advantage on the road, a three man break that went mid-way through the stage with Gordon McCauley (Barry Stewart Builders), Dion Smith (PureBlack Racing) and Matt Cronshaw (Node 4-Subaru) became the group to join.
"It was touch and go there for a moment, when (Roulston) got away quite early on and put the pressure on the Bissell guys," said Northey.
"It was dangerous, but in hindsight it worked for us because it isolated them a lot quicker."
The Calder Stewart pair of Roulston and Michael Vink towed Northey up to the join the leaders, with Carter unable to follow in their wake.
It was game over for Carter as the group worked to put as much time into the peloton as possible with Roulston and Vink moving themselves up the general classification. Roulston, who started the stage in third, 2min 2sec down, eventually finished second overall with Vink, who won the morning's time trial stage, gaining enough time to steal the under 23 classification from Taylor Gunman (PureBlack).
As the leaders approached the four kilometre finishing circuit, Smith, who had been a passenger in the lead group, attacked. Vink covered the move, with Roulston surging to join them. As they completed the circuit it was just Roulston and Vink left at the front of the race, crossing the line together to win the final stage.
Jones finished in the peloton nearly four minutes down on the winner.
Australian Sam Witmitz (Share the Road) sealed himself the sprint classification after leading it for the entire tour while Joe Chapman (Creation Signs - L&M Group Racing) netted the King of the Mountains classification for his second year.
Northey's Biritsh Continental team Node 4-Subaru claimed the team's classification.
Stage 8: 79km: Winton - Invercargill
1 Hayden ROULSTON (Calder Stewart) 1hr 43min 27sec
2 Michael VINK (Calder Stewart)
3 Gordon MCCAULEY (Barry Stewart Builders-GMC Coaching) 00:15
4 Dion SMITH (Pure Black Racing) 00:17
5 Michael NORTHEY (Node 4-Subaru) 00:17
6 Matt CRONSHAW (Node 4-Subaru) 03:52
7 Samuel WITMITZ (Share The Road) 03:52
8 Daniel BARRY (Node 4-Subaru) 03:52
9 Pieter BULLING (Ascot Park Hotel-Kia Motors-NZ Bike Magazine) 03:52
10 Craig HUTTON (Southsure Insurance Team) 03:54
1 Michael NORTHEY (Node 4-Subaru) 21hr 20min 29sec
2 Hayden ROULSTON (Calder Stewart) 01:21
3 Michael VINK (Calder Stewart) 01:46
4 Gordon MCCAULEY (Barry Stewart Builders-GMC Coaching) 03:03
5 Carter JONES (Bissell Pro Cycling) 03:20
6 Taylor GUNMAN (Pure Black Racing) 04:48
7 Dion SMITH (Pure Black Racing) 04:49
8 Daniel BARRY (Node 4-Subaru) 05:39
9 Heath BLACKGROVE (PowerNet) 07:52
10 Pieter BULLING (Ascot Park Hotel-Kia Motors-NZ Bike Magazine) 08:11