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Tour de Vineyards … Hot & Hard!

A last minute decision to enter this tour was a good one, to race with New Zealands top elite riders was a real eye opener.

I was a really nervous at the start but learnt plenty of skills from the guys, it’s a lot different riding from your average local fun ride. There’s a lot of nerves running though you which means you have to be on the ball the whole time.

Nelson is pretty well known for hot temperatures and sunny days. Apparently this year was the worst conditions they have had for a couple of years but the weather was still really nice.

clip_image002We rented one of the locals’ home for 6 nights, cooking our own meals, doing our own washing. It just felt like home, with fantastic views of the port and surrounding landscape. It was really cheap and the atmosphere was a lot better than being in a motel room.

Stage 1: 60km

Hope. Flat Intense Circuit Race.

We rode out from the house to the race everyday which was a nice warm up. After the night before of drinking, letting off fireworks and seeing the new year in, we were off racing, 12 laps in the baking Nelson sun. It was a super fast stage, I started to cramp on the 10th lap. We all finished in the pack, except Jeroen who was up for the bunch sprint.

It was way too hot ride back home, and i was severely dehydrated by the end. We were really lucky with kate being our driver/team manager being there for us everyday.

Stage 2: 111km

Richmond to Motueka to Richmond

Today was a lot cooler, we had a few light showers on the route which kept the temperatures down, there were a few slippery corners where riders came down. Today was defintely a lot nicer as we stayed in the peleton.

There was a break of a few riders but the peleton eventually caught them up for another bunch sprint. I was involved in a bit of crash at the 70k mark and got dropped from the group. Me and about 4 other riders rode

the remainder of the stage back which wasn’t ideal as we couldn’t save our legs for the penultimate 3rd stage up Takaka the next day.

Stage 3: 130km

Richmond to summit Takaka Hill

with 15km ascent) – a good day!

After the previous days efforts I was a little sceptic about how the legs were going to pull up this morning. This stage was really going to sort the men out from the boys. The peleton was pretty relaxed for the majority of the stage so we just sat in and saved our legs till the climb. I had lost about 30sec on the peleton at the base of Takaka climb to get water bottles for the boys, so i started the climb at the very back but my legs had good form luckily today and rode really well up the climb, I actually enjoyed the climb. The boys & I were cracked by the end of the day and i don’t blame them, Luke McCarthy was in the break for the whole day, and Josh rode like a beast up the climb with Jeroen doing work to get him up the front before the ascent began.

Stage 4: 60km

Stoke. Street circuit.

Fourth and final stage of the tour and the legs were feeling pretty taxed by now. 11 laps of a tough undulating street circuit in Stoke. I knew the pressure was going to be right from the start and it was.

After the 4th lap things were getting tough for me, a few guys were getting dropped and pulling out, I managed to finish the stage (minus 1 lap). Conditions were pleasant today, apart from a strong head wind on part of the course.

Cooler temperatures made for nice riding. It was time to hit the beach after the stage, it wasn’t the nicest day with strong winds hampering the beach but the water was really warm.

Overall I really rated this tour, it was well organised, really fun and I would recommend it to everybody. My main goal was complete it and not to come home with the wooden spoon so it was a great success.

Nelson is a really neat place, nice beaches, nice ladies, hot sun and a great atmosphere. The only thing I would change about the trip is to start the tour on the 2nd rather than day after New years night, but there were no regrets.

I’m going to plan on doing it again next year, so Palmerston North should think about getting a team together.

P.S bring the sunscreen!

To check out how everyone went go to: