Team to tackle Tour of Southland

Team Cromwell sponsors Gary Anderson, Toni Hudson, Anthea Tall and team manager Barry Tall...
Team Cromwell sponsors Gary Anderson, Toni Hudson, Anthea Tall and team manager Barry Tall display their Team Cromwell cycling shirts. Photo by Leith Huffadine
For the first time, a town will enter a team in the 58-year-old Tour of Southland.

''Team Cromwell'' is the result of a conversation over morning coffee in a cafe, and is intended to help promote the town.

Sponsor co-ordinator Glen Christiansen said the idea for the six-man cycling team came about as a group of Cromwell businesses discussed the cost of entering the tour earlier this year.

''We discussed if we could put a team in, and getting more people to throw some money in. [We] approached 20 businesses who said they would.

''It was not very hard at all.''

As the event was televised in about 80 countries, it would help advertise Cromwell as a holiday and cycling destination, Mr Christiansen said.

Tour of Southland tour manager Bruce Ross said the team was an exciting introduction to the race.

''I think it shows the interest that the tour has, regarded as New Zealand's best cycling tour, and we are pretty proud.''

The race had received ''really positive'' feedback from team sponsors in the past.

''It's well and truly televised, with same-day highlights on Sky Sport ... teams get a lot of exposure.''

Team manager Barry Tall said the team had approached two riders already, Gavin Mason, of Wanaka, and Matt Marshall, of Cromwell.

Other riders would be selected closer to the race, and could come from ''anywhere''.

However, the team did want riders from the South.

''We would prefer to select Otago and Southland riders, due to their weather-resistant capabilities,'' Mr Tall said.

There was even talk of recent Commonwealth Games gold medallist Tom Scully, who was once trained by Mr Tall.

''Tom Scully would fit in really well, but it would depend on how busy he is at the time.''

Team Cromwell would pay entry fees and running costs for the riders during the race.

Mr Christiansen said the team also had support from the town's schools and the Cromwell and District Promotion Group.

''The whole community is getting it behind it. Everyone has been very supportive of the idea.''

Team Cromwell cycling jerseys were for sale for those who wished to support the team.

Winning the tour was not necessarily the goal for Mr Christiansen.

''It sort of comes down to [it] being a strong team environment. Winning is not necessarily at the forefront ... but a couple of stage wins would not go amiss.''

Team Cromwell held a meeting last night to officially announce the team and to provide information to the public.

Twenty teams of six riders were expected in this year's tour, including some from Australia and possibly one from the United States.

Mr Ross said the tour, which begins and finishes in Invercargill, would run from November 2-8, travelling across Southland and including a stage finishing at Coronet Peak skifield.

leith.huffadine@odt.co.nz

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