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Iron John Lieswyn Wins Second Southland Tour
 
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 11/7/2004
Iron John Lieswyn Wins Second Southland Tour
 

Iron Man Lieswyn Victorious in  Second New Zealand PowerNet Tour of the Southland

Health Net's Henderson and Lieswyn take two of three stages.

 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 stage.
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 category.

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.

Final Results:
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

 

 
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