It was raining when we woke up this morning…and it only got heavier by the time we arrived in Glenorchy just after 9am for the start at 10am of our first stage on the Tour of NZ, a 37km Team Time Trial. Still, we and the 150 or so other Tour riders were excited about the start of racing. The hour passed quickly in preparation for the ride and catching up with lots of old friends from previous Tours. At least the air temperature of 8C was a bit warmer than the brilliantly sunny but 3C start we had here in the previous Tour in 2019.
Teams left at 30-second intervals, with our ‘racing’ team – Corrie, Kaye, Kieran and Geoff – departing right before our ‘touring’ team – Donna, Katie, Leonie, Mike and Rod. Both quickly settled down into a good speed, and rhythm of rotating the rider leading their paceline. Despite the poor weather and thus the need to concentrate even harder on riding, we could appreciate the spectacular views of mountains and lake as we headed down the eastern shore of Lake Wakatipu.
We had a fair few long hills to power up and zoom down but our good pace and flow ensured the stage unfolded with no dramas and only exhilaration of the welcome kind. And our excellent new team colour rain jackets from Tineli kept at least our top halves fairly dry. Still, we were happy to cross the finish line at Wilson’s Bay, with our first team clocking 1 hour 22 minutes, and our second team 1 hour 35 minutes. Below are Kieran and Kaye, of our ‘race’ team, leading some riders up one of the bigger climbs of the day.
Late this afternoon, we took the Queenstown gondola up to the Skyline Restaurant for our first peloton party. It was a chance for the all the riders and supporters to share stories about the day, and to hear from the first two charities they’re raising funds for – Unicorn, which is tackling neuroendocrine cancer diagnosis and treatment, and Tearfund which is fighting sex slavery in Asia.
We also heard from the young lads of the Oxford Edge cycling team, based in Christchurch, which helps very talented riders in their late teens and early 20s develop their racing skills, with hopes of professional cycling careers. They won the stage today at a blistering pace. One of them, Cathal, is a nephew of Keiran and Leonie on our team. He’s second on the left in this photo, and first on the left is Guy Yarrell, grandson of Pete Yarrell, the Tour of NZ’s founder and director.
This evening, Geoff organised us to cook another delicious dinner back at our Arrowtown accommodation…to fortify us for our stage tomorrow over the Crown Range, the highest, paved road in Aotearoa with its summit at 1,076m.
…and to close, here are a few more photos of us on the road today (from the Tour’s Facebook page). Thanks, Scottie and team for your excellent photos and videos of the Tour!