Iron Man Lieswyn Victorious in Second New Zealand
PowerNet Tour of the Southland
Health Net's Henderson and Lieswyn take two of three
John Lieswyn of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented
by Maxxis became only the second rider from outside Australasia to win the
PowerNet Tour of the Southland in New Zealand. Lieswyn known in the States as a
hard man and always counted on to animate one day or stage races at 36 years of
age shows just how hard a man he can be; solidifying his legend with this win.
John was the first rider, to win the tour in 2002, now adding his name to the
winners list two of the three times he has ridden the Southland Tour.
Lieswyn rode on a composite Southland Times team that included his Health Net
Presented Kiwi teammate Greg Henderson, who won two of the final three stages of
the six-day, 10-stage tour. In addition to Lieswyn claiming the top spot
overall, two other Southland Times teammates: Glen Mitchell (Sierra Nevada) and
2003 Southland Tour winner Scott Guyton rounded out the top three overall.
The Southland Times team was in control of the race from
the opening team time trial on November 1. The five-man team, which also
included Kiwi track rider Tim Gudsell, came across the line :10 ahead of the
Zookeepers Café squad. When Henderson crossed the line first, he assumed the
race leader’s jersey, which he handed over to teammate Mitchell in the
afternoons second stage.
Mitchell beat New Zealand road and time trial champion
Heath Blackgrove (Zookeepers Café) by :03 for the stage win. Teammates Lieswyn
and Guyton finished fourth and fifth respectively, and began solidifying their
places at the top of the leader board.
Lieswyn took over the yellow leader’s jersey the next day
after Stage 3, escaping from a group of 12 with eventual stage winner Hayden
Roulston (Zookeepers) of the Cofidis team, 20 km from the finish of the 114 km
The two finished nearly a minute ahead of the remnants of the break, and nearly
two minutes ahead of the main field, which was lead across the line by Lieswyn’s
teammates, Mitchell, Guyton and Gudsell. The stage results shook up the overall,
putting Lieswyn ahead of Roulston by 1:09, and Mitchell dropping to third at
1:36. Little changed in that afternoon’s fourth stage, won by Gordon McCauley
(Zookeepers), who races in the U.S. for Monex. McCauley hung on ahead of a
charging field after escaping in a break that he helped initiate just one
kilometer into the 88km stage. The only casualty at the top of the overall was
Blackgrove, who suffered a mechanical and lost 6:00 on the day, moving Guyton up
a place to fifth.
Stage 5, the 134 km run up to Crown Range, would prove
decisive for the Southland Times team in putting a tighter grip on the race.
Mitchell won his second stage, just ahead of Blackgrove and Aaron Strong (Hot
Cycles), and :30 and :38 ahead of teammates Guyton and Lieswyn. But Roulston,
who came into the stage in second, got shelled in the end, finishing 4:00 down
to the stage winner, dropping him to 10th place. Lieswyn, Mitchell and Guyton
controlled the top of the overall.
The Stage 6 morning ITT helped to solidify the Southland
Times trio’s position, with Guyton, Lieswyn and Mitchell finishing second
through fourth behind Peter Latham (Rabobank), who is the race leader in the U23
The afternoon Stage 7 was poised to shake up the top of the
overall when Mitchell found himself in an early break with Roulston and Fraser
McMaster (Meadow Fresh). At one point in the 123 km stage, the break hovered
nearly two minutes ahead of the field, putting Mitchell as the race leader over
Lieswyn by 1:12. But despite the pleadings of Roulston, Mitchell opted not to
work for the break, saying instead that he was just marking it for teammate
Lieswyn. His decision likely cost him a stage win, and more important, a chance
at the yellow jersey and, potentially, the overall win. Instead, Mitchell
finished third in the stage behind winner Robin Reid (Meadow Fresh) and
Blackgrove. Lieswyn and Guyton finished in the top 10 in the same time as the
winner to retain their positions in the overall.
Henderson found himself in a similar situation in Stage 8,
part of a four-man break in which he also opted against driving. Instead, he
“policed” the break, which started just 8 km into the longest stage of the race,
a 163 km jaunt to the tourist town of Te Anau. At one point, the break’s lead
had grown to nearly 8:00, making American Matt Dubberly, a teammate of
Mitchell’s on Sierra Nevada, the virtual race leader on the road. When
Henderson’s fellow Olympian and former teammate on Health Net Presented by
Maxxis, Hayden Godfrey dropped off the back of the break, Henderson was left to
ride with Dubberly and the ever-aggressive Heath Blackgrove. After sitting in
for most of the stage, Henderson the world track champion in the scratch race
and winner of the New York City Championship had an easy time dispatching his
two disgruntled break-mates in the sprint to the line.
Henderson repeated his Stage 8 feat in the race’s final
stage, taking a sprint finish at the end of the 64 km afternoon Stage 10. Gorden
McCauley had already won the morning Stage 9, which saw Mitchell take an
addition :17 out of his teammate Lieswyn’s overall lead coming into the last
stage. But everything stayed together for the race leaders in the short finale,
and Lieswyn sealed his second Tour of the Southland overall victory.
Lieswyn, who at 36 had talked of retiring at the end of the 2004 season, isn’t
showing any signs of slowing down after a season that included an overall win at
the challenging International Tour de ‘Toona, as well as the Southland overall.
1. John Lieswyn (USA) The Southland Times 20.46.43
2. Glen Mitchell (NZl) The Southland Times 0.18
3. Scott Guyton (NZl) The Southland Times 1.29
4. Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Calder Stewart 2.47
5. Aaron Strong (NZl) Hot Cycles 2.48
6. Peter Latham (NZl) Rabobank 3.58
8 Eddy Hilger (USA) Meadow Fresh 5.44
9 Matt Dubberley (USA) S.I.T. Zero Fees 5.52
10 Geoffrey Burndred (NZl) Rabobank 8.23
39 Greg Henderson (NZl) The Southland Times 27.28