Vink handily placed to secure unique double

Michael Vink
Michael Vink
Tour of Southland champion Michael Vink looks set to capture a unique double as he and riding partner Tim Rush, of North Otago, enter the final day of the Pioneer race with a commanding lead on general classification.

Vink, of Christchurch, and Rush have had control of the race for most of the week and enter the finishing straight with a lead of more than an hour over Alan Gordon and Timothy Hammond, of South Africa.

"I think we have found our rhythm this week and just settled into it," Vink said.

"It was probably one of the more consistent days we have had. We were in the bunch more than usual and we just rode a steady pace up the climb, not trying to drop anyone and felt better for it."

Defending champions James Williamson and Scott Lyttle kept the pressure on the South Africans for the minor placings with a second-place finish yesterday to be just over 5min further behind in third.

The women's race has been close throughout the week and it came down to a sprint finish yesterday.

Australians Briony Mattocks and Brodie Chapman led Kate McIlroy and Amy Hollamby home by just under 0.5sec.

McIlroy and Hollamby lead on general classification by just under 8min.

McIlroy is a renowned competitor and is loving the battle with the Australians.

"The Aussie girls are amazing riders and I think it is just cool that the top two teams are so close. Amy was awesome today for us, we were talking the whole way. It was an awesome day, the hardest day of the six," McIlroy said.

The mixed category is close with Queenstown's Kate Fluker and Mark Williams, of Queenstown, just over 6min ahead of Joe Skerman and Josie Wilcox.

Yesterday's leg was in and around Bannockburn, covering 79km.

Riders will head into the last day today, beginning at Bannockburn and heading to Queenstown via Kawarau Gorge and over Mt Michael into the Pisa Range in the final big climb of the week.

Riders will be transported over the Kawarau River on jet-boats.


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