Today’s Individual Time Trial will be crucial in Taylor Gunman’s bid to wear the Pink Jersey until the end - PureBlack Racing Challenging the International Teams at Tour of Southland

Friday 2nd November: PureBlack Racing challenged the international teams of Node4-Subaru and Bissell Pro Cycling during Stage Six of the Tour of Southland to stay on the leaderboard and in contention for top spots.

Taylor Gunman has secured the U23 Pink Jersey for the final day, but in Stage Six Taylor’s position was threatened when U23 Fraser Gough jumped into a breakaway with three other riders.

The riders were Hayden Roulsten (Calder-Stewart), Daniel Barry (Node4-Subaru) and Clinton Avery (Ascot Park Hotels - Kia Motors - NZ Bike Mag). With a big enough time gap at the completion of the stage, Fraser would have been a threat to the Pink Jersey.

“It has been stressful protecting the jersey,” said Taylor, “It is really important to me that I take this jersey to the end of the tour.

“If I do so, it will be the biggest result of my career.”

Sitting third overall on the individual GC makes Taylors position in the race even harder: “I have two different positions that I want to defend, this is the first time I have been in this position and it is just adding to the stress and the nerves.”

Despite the nerves, Taylor is working well with his teammates to ensure that he is in the right position even though the team did not have the best day in the saddle today.

“We had to do a lot of work today,” said Director Sportif, John “Harry” Harris, “Jimmy [James Williamson] was knackered today after two huge days out the front in the break but he still went to the front of the peloton to do his job.”

Although today’s stage was not the best for the team, they still managed to position themselves where they needed to be to keep Taylors position.

“It all came through in the end and we didn’t end up losing any time in the end,” said Harry.

“Node4 put on the gas with 20km to go and I knew that I needed to be in there with them,” said Taylor, “I had to spend the day being smart about the way I rode.”

With the breakaway stretching their time gap to over three minutes, Taylor knew he needed to dig deep lessen the gap between Fraser and himself. Seeing Fraser had been dropped from the breakaway coming into the final section of stage was a relief to Taylor.

Taylor has enough time on Fraser in the U23 category that if they finished at the same time his jersey was not in jeopardy.

With Mike Northey and Carter Jones (Bissell Pro Cycling) both in the lead group to come off the peloton Taylor was also more assured that the Pink Jersey should stay with him.

“With Mike and Carter in there the dynamics changed a lot, the focus on who was going to take the yellow and the pink was no longer under threat,” said Taylor, “but I still wanted to ride to protect my place on the overall G.C.”

Teamwork has been a huge factor in the success of Taylor during his fourth Tour of Southland, without his friends around him, old and new, he might not be in the position he is in now.

“There is nothing better than riding with a bunch of mates, all the boys have really looked after me,” said Taylor, “Dan [Bonello] has been priceless, being a new guy on the team he has really stepped up to the job and hasn’t missed a beat.”

Dan is having a fantastic time during is first ever Tour of Southland, even with the hard work of having to look after Taylor: “I knew I would have my work cut out for me when I came over here and would have to ride completely selflessly.”

“It has been amazing what the team has achieved,” said Dan, “It is great to ride with a team who races at a professional level and really composes themselves well on the road, it makes it rewarding to be able to contribute to PureBlack.”

For Taylor, the time trial will be make or break for the Pink Jersey and he wont have his teammates to look after him.

Michael Vink is Taylor’s biggest threat as he is currently New Zealand’s Time Trial Champion

“Taylor will not lose that much time to Vink,” said Harry, “He should not lose more than 30 seconds and that wont affect him at all.”

Vink is currently 1m51s behind Taylor for the U23 honours.

“I will be focusing on the time trial tomorrow and will be looking to ride the afternoon tomorrow like I did today,” said Taylor, “If I can ride up the front, the pink jersey is a safe bet.”

The Individual Time Trial starts in Winton at 10am in reverse GC order, meaning Taylor will be starting third to last. The course will be fast as it is only 12.9km long.

The final stage from Winton back to Invercargill starts at 1.30pm the team will be ensuring the Pink Jersey is firmly on Taylors back on the home straight of the Tour of Southland.

The fight for the Yellow Jersey is going to be tight with only four seconds separating Carter Jones (Bissell Pro Cycling) and Mike Northey (Node4-Subaru) with Taylor sitting a further 44 seconds behind.