Tour of Southland

New Zealand, November 3-8, 1997

Prologue - Complete GC
Stage 1  - Complete GC
Stage 2  - Complete GC
Stage 3  - Complete GC
Stage 4  - Complete GC
Stage 5  - Complete GC
Stage 6
Stage 7  - Complete GC
Stage 8
Stage 9
Stage 10
Stage 11

Prologue, Invercargill, 4 km circuit

Top track rider Gary Anderson prepared for the Tour of Southland by racing in Adelaide on the track. The other cyclists adopted more normal tactics and trained over parts of the demanding course for New Zealand's toughest stage race of the season.

Anderson's unusual preparation still saw him lose on 3 seconds to overall prologue winner Glen Thomson from Dunedin at Invercargill, on NZ's south island. Thomson's time of 5.22 did not compare to the record time of 5.04 set by Glenn McLeay in 1992, although there was a strong sw wind blowing in the last 2 kms of the 4 km circuit.

Anderson was reported as saying: "I just about stopped in that last bit into the head wind. That's the thing about this race -- if other riders don't get you, the weather does."

On Saturday night (the night before), Anderson compted against the top Australian track riders at the Superdrome and then had to spend most of Sunday travelling to the South of NZ. He was reported as saying: "I guess it took something out of me. But I lost it because of the head wind, not the travelling."

Prologue winner Thomson, was nearly lost to cycling last year until he managed his brother's team in the 1996 Tour of Southland. He is reported as saying: "Seeing the guys riding in the tour and seeing the hard work everyone put in made me want to get back into it."

Top NZ rider, Brian Fowler (Christchurch) started well. He has won the Tour 8 times previously. He was third in the prologue and all five members of his team were in the top 10.

 1. Glen Thomson (NZ) Sycamore Print		5.22
 2. Gary Anderson (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	0.03
 3. Brian Fowler (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	0.07
 4. Chris Nicholson (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	0.08
 5. Julian Dean (NZ) Sycamore Print		0.10
 6. D. Lee (NZ) Boyle Subaru			0.14
 7. Gordon McCauley (NZ) RTL Signs		0.15

Stage 1, Invercargill - Tuatapere, 86.7 km

Graeme Miller is 36 years of age and Brian Fowler is 35. After Stage 2 of the Tour of Southland they are dominating the race. The local press describe them as the "grumpy old men of NZ cycling". Fowler has won the race 8 times, and although Miller has never won he would love to. -- but would dearly like to. They are riding on the same team this year. After the first proper day on the road, which consisted of two difficult road stages made even more harsh by the cold wet conditions, their team does not have the Tour lead.

Dunedin's Glen Thomson holds the leaders jersey after racing well today. But Fowler's team is strong and the local view is that it is only a matter of time before he takes over the lead of the race.

Miller won the first stage yesterday in a sprint finish with Glen Thomson second. The two had attacked at the 60 km mark and successfully stayed away. The bunch sprint for third was won by Fowler. Miller is KOM leader and another one of Fowlor's riders from the Winton's Middle Pub Team, Jarron Poad holds the sprint jersey.

 1. Graeme Miller (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	     2.25.48
 2. Glen Thomson (NZ) Sycamore Print			s.t.
 3. Brian Fowler (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub		1.48 
 4. K. Murray (NZ) de Geest				s.t.
 5. Chris Nicholson (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub		s.t. 

Stage 2, Tuatapere - Te Anau, 102.4 kms:

In the afternoon, the riders faced a 102.4 km stage from Tuatapere to Te Anau with the demanding Blackmount climb in between. The peloton did nothing until the Belgian Ipso rider Franky van Haesebroucke attacked at the bottom of the climb. A classic double attack occurred once van Haesebroucke was caught with his Belgian team-mate Frank de Backer next to go.

Fearing something significant, Fowler motivated his team and with Miller, defending champion Gordon McCauley, and Thomson they chased de Backer down.

The peloton was blown away in the section from Manapouri round Lake Te Anau with Fowler winning the stage from Miller and Thomson.

 1. Brian Fowler (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	     2.49.03
 2. Graeme Miller (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	     
 3. Glen Thomson (NZ) Sycamore Print
 4. Gordon McCauley (NZ) RTL Signs			0.05
 5. Koen De Backer (Bel) Muir World Travel		0.12
 6. Frank De Backer (Bel)				0.12

GC after Stage 2:

 1. Glen Thomson (NZ) Sycamore Print	     5.20.38
 2. Graeme Miller (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	0.11
 3. Brian Fowler (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	1.53
 5. Gordon McCauley (NZ)  RTL Signs		2.13
 6. Koen De Backer (Bel) Muir World Travel	2.36

Stage 3, Te Anau, 21.6 kms:

The local NZ press lead out with the headline "The oldest legs proved also to be the strongest legs in the Tour of Southland cycle race yesterday. Aucklander Graeme Miller, two weeks short of his 37th birthday, won two of the three stages to take the race leader's yellow jersey." The first stage was an early 21.6 km criterium on the waterfront of Lake Te Anau. Miller outsprinted three noted sprinters, Jeremy Hunt from England (who rides for Banesto), local track rider Julian Dean and Belgian Ipso rider Franky van Haesebroucke. A protest by Hunt against Miller's sprint was dismissed.

 1. Graeme Miller (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	
 2. Jeremy Hunt (UK)
 3. Julian Dean (NZ)
 4. Franky van Haesebroucke (Bel)

Stage 4, Te Anau - Lumsden, 78.9 kms:

23-year old Christchurch rider, Greg Scott won the middle of the three stages today after a long solo breakaway. Scott attacked soon after the flag went down and some riders in the peloton did not know he had gone. That is, until it was too late. His lead was never very large and he was left to win alone because he was not a GC threat. Among the experienced riders who were oblivious to his attack was Gary Anderson who thought he had won when he sprinted off Australia's Joshua Watts for second place. He actually gave the big V with his arms at the end.

He said afterwards: "I felt a bit of a fool. That was a silly mistake."

Scott taunted him and said: "You'll have to keep your eyes open Gary. I'd planned to get away and take my chances but I didn't really plan to go so early and it was a pleasant surprise to find I could stay away."

 1. Greg Scott (NZ)
 2. Gary Anderson (NZ)
 3. Joshua Watts (Aus)

Stage 5, Kingston - Arrowtown, 92.8 kms:

Despite Scott's fabulous solo effort in the middle stage, the day ended in glory for Miller. He predicted that the 5th stage would be decisive. His prophecy proved sound.

Anton Berry tried to emulate Scott's effort and attacked before the Stage had gone 20 kms and stayed away for a long period. As the peloton climbed through Devil's Staircase, Miller attacked off the front with Thomson hanging on his wheel. They quickly caught Berry and the three worked a lead out to 1.50. Brian Fowler, playing a team-mate role for Miller, blocked the chasing bunch continually to frustrate their attempts to catch the three breakaway riders.

Last year's winner Gordon McCauley did break away from the peloton but was stranded between the them and the lead 3. As they went over the last climb of the stage, 7 kms from the strip, Miller attacked and took 20 secs out of Thomson and Berry within 800 metres. He then faced a downhill run in to the finish.

Miller was reported as saying: "Glen's been riding well and I felt a bit guilty about leaving him like that but a race is a race."

 1. Graeme Miller (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub
 2. Glen Thomson (NZ) Sycamore Print
 3. Anton Berry (NZ)

GC after Stage 5

 1. Graeme Miller (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub

Stage 6, Mossburn - Winton, 130 kms:

The Middle Pub team of Brian Fowler and race leader Graeme Miller controlled the peloton during the longest stage of the Tour of Southland in the morning stage from Mossburn to Winton. The front of the bunch was thick with their team riders and they regulated the pace and the attacks.

Miller sat in the bunch at about 12th wheel knowing his team was protecting his overall lead. A few insignificant riders on GC were allowed to attack including Christchurch's Brett Day and Invercargill's John Alabaster (son of former test cricket spinner Jack) who stayed away until near the finish.

As the race came into Winton, Fowler motivated the team to chase them down and they were caught at the town limits. In the mass sprint, Olympic pursuiter Julian Dean beat Miller for the win with Belgian Franky van Haesebroucke taking third. Glen Thomson and defending champion Gordon McCauley, who were the only GC threats finished back in the peloton.

 1. Julian Dean (NZ) Sycamore Print			3.06.00
 2. Graeme Miller (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub,
 3. Franky van Haesebroucke (Bel) Muir World Travel
 4. Chris Lillywhite (UK) Southland Times
 5. K Murray (NZ) de Geest
 6. J Poad (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub			all s.t.

Stage 7, Winton ITT, 13 kms:

Graeme Miller and Brian Fowler, long-time rivals and now riding for the same team in the Tour of Southland, continued their domination of the Tour after the ITT around Winton. Miller's overall lead on GC was reduced to under a minute by a thrilling demolition job on the field in the ITT by the Dunedin rider, Glen Thomson.

Miller leads Thomson on GC by only 42 seconds. Thomson who had won the Prologue to take the first leader's jersey on a track bike, repeated the dose in the Winton ITT. He still thinks Miller will take the final GC. He is reported as saying: "He's the strongest rider in the race; he and his team are doing all the right things. Graeme would have to crash not to win and I don't want to win that way."

Miller was more reflective even though he admitted he was strong and that his team Winton's Middle Pub team was in control. He is reported as saying: "Two heads are better than one and Brian and I are working well together, not just in terms of riding, but in strategy as well."

McCauley (4th on GC) wanted to take time off at least third-placed Fowler. He was a second slower in the end.

 1. Glen Thomson (NZ) Sycamore Print	       16.38
 2. D. Lee (NZ) Boyle Subaru 			0.03
 3. Gary Anderson (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	0.22
 4. Scott Guyton (NZ)  Muir World Travel	0.24
 5. Chris Nicholson (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	0.27
 6. Brian Fowler (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	0.37
 7. Gordon McCauley (NZ) RTL Signs		0.38

GC after Stage 7

 1. Graeme Miller (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	    13.21.50
 2. Glen Thomson (NZ) Sycamore Print			0.42
 3. Brian Fowler (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub		3.32
 4. Gordon McCauley (NZ) RTL Signs			4.01
 5. Scott Guyton (NZ) Muir World Travel			5.33
 6. Koen de Backer (Bel) Muir World Travel		5.37

Stage 8, Invercargill - Gore, 82.4 kms:

The first stage of the day was the morning ride from Invercargill to Gore, a distance of 82.4 kms. Race leader Graeme Miller, under challenge from Glen Thomson had a touch of luck in tough windy conditions. Thomson had to avoid sharply a rider who had been blown into him by very gusty winds and he ended off the road with his front tyre ruined.

His team-mate Grant Lyon swapped his wheel with Thomson who quickly got going again. But Brian Fowler motiviated his team in the peloton to attack to prevent Thomson from getting back on.

After a strong solo effort, Thomson caught the peloton after a 10 km chase into the head wind. He was visibly upset as he steamed past the bunch. He obviously didn't appreciate Fowler's tactics. Some riders accused him of receiving assistance because of the awesome nature of his chase. The race judges has ensured that he did not take any assistance.

NZ Olympic representative Scott Guyton attacked soon after Thomson regained contact and took Karl Murray, Thomson, Graeme Miller, Brian Fowler and Stuart Lowe with him. Murray was dropped and the sprint was taken by Miller from Thomson.

 1. Graeme Miller (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub   2.13.19
 2. Glen Thomson (NZ) Sycamore Print 		0.04
 3. Brian Fowler (NZ) Middle Pub 		0.07
 4. Scott Guyton (NZ) Muir World Travel 	s.t.
 5. Stuart Lowe (NZ) Anchor Fresh 		0.09
 6. Karl Murray (NZ) de Geest			0.54        

Stage 9, Gore to Invercargill (interrupted), 57 kms:

Graeme Miller maintained a 44 second lead with one day left to race. His lead was definitely not a foregone conclusion at the start of this stage but the weather - a very strong and gusty north-westerly wind saw the stage cancelled and Miller safe.

Glen Thomson, second on GC, was intent on overhauling Miller's lead and he received great help from his team-mate Julian Dean. But then a major gust of wind swept Thomson and Dean off the road and into long grass. Miller, was trying to stay on his bike by having one foot on top of his pedal to maitain balance just in case.

Miller, Thomson and Dean had a break of 50 seconds on the peloton which included the rest of Miller's team (Brian Fowler, Chris Nicholson and Jarron Poad). The chase bunch were unable to make ground because of the win. Miller was very vulnerable but the wind saved him.

Two other riders were blown of the course (Craig Upton and Marcus Sullivan) and the officials decided, after Thomson and Dean fell, to cancel the stage. The riders then had to ride last 3 kms into Invercargill starting at the time differences that existed when the stage was cancelled. Thomson overpowered Miller and Dean in the sprint but the 3 kms did not allow any time gaps to open.

Race director Bruce Ross was reported as saying: "The conditions were too dangerous for the riders for the race to continue. We wanted to have a circuit race south of Invercargill instead but the wind was just as bad there. Some teams weren't happy, but it's one of those decisions that won't please everyone."

 1. Glen Thomson (NZ) Sycamore Print	     1.39.41        
 2. Graeme Miller (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	s.t.
 3. Julian Dean (NZ) Sycamore Print		0.04
 4. Scott Guyton (NZ) Muir World Travel 	1.26
 5. Karl Murray (NZ) de Geest		
 6. Bearman (NZ) RTL Signs 			s.t.

GC after Stage 9

 1. Graeme Miller (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	    17.14.40
 2. Glen Thomson (NZ) Sycamore Print	     		0.44
 3. Brian Fowler (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub		5.18
 4. Gordon McCauley (NZ) RTL Signs 			6.30
 5. Scott Guyton (NZ) Muir World Travel 		7.13
 6. Koen de Backer (Bel) Muir World Travel		8.07

Sprints after Stage 9

 1. N Shattock (NZ) Zookeepers 				54 points
 2. D Lee (NZ) Boyle Subaru	 			47
 3. Franky van Haesebroucke (Bel) Muir World Travel 	38

KOM after Stage 9

 1. Graeme Miller (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub     105 points
 2. Glen Thomson (NZ) Sycamore Print		92
 3. A Berry (NZ) Mercury TV			40 

Stage 10, Winton to Bluff

Graeme Miller drew his lucky number 19 at the start of the Tour and was sure it would bring him success. He is reported as saying: "I've had No. 19 for about 80% of my winning rides in the United States. Whenever I get it, I know I'm going to do well."

The omen boded well when, after 16 attempts, Miller won the Tour of Southland for the first time. He has won Commonwealth Games gold medals and raced all over the world, but the 36-year old was still excited about the victory.

He is reported as saying: "I'm absolutely rapt. "I agreed to ride the tour to help Brian Fowler win it again. The plan was for me to help him."

But instead, 8 times winner Brian Fowler, worked to protect Miller, once he had taken the leader's jersey early in the Tour. Fowler finished 3rd on GC at the end, but showed his team loyalty by risking that place to make sure Miller won overall.

Miller went into the final day with a narrow margin on Glen Thomson. The attacks came early. 1996 winner, Gordon McCauley attacked strongly on the road to Bluff. As that was going on, NZ Olympic representative, Scott Guyton flew up Bluff Hill to take the stage. Guyton was threatening Fowler's third place position.

But for Miller the worst threat came from Glen Thomson who took 23 seconds out of him up the Bluff Hill which cut Miller's lead on GC to 18 seconds with the final stage from Bluff to Invercargill to come.

Stage 11, Bluff - Invercargill, 73.2 kms:

With only 18 seconds to defend, Miller was thankful for the atrocious weather conditions which saw a strong southerly wind and hailstorms. While a big break went away all the top placed riders were in it except for McCauley. Miller sat Thomson's wheel the whole way of the final 73.2 kms and Fowler policed the break to stop any further attacks.

In the last 3 kms, Stuart Lowe escaped with Julian Dean to win the stage.

Thomson was reported as saying: "The conditions just weren't right and Graeme was riding too strongly. I thought of giving it a go but riding on my own like that might even have cost me second. But I had a good tour, much better than I expected."

 1. Stuart Lowe
 2. Julian Dean

Final GC

 1. Graeme Miller (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub	    17.14.40
 2. Glen Thomson (NZ) Sycamore Print	     		0.18
 3. Brian Fowler (NZ) Winton's Middle Pub		5.18