Past winners confirmed for Tour celebrations

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SEVERAL past winners are returning to watch the 60th Tour of Southland cycle race and extra community challenges and functions have been organised to commemorate the anniversary in style.
This year’s SBS Bank-sponsored race will start on Sunday, October 30 and finish on Saturday, November 5.
Former winners already confirmed were Warwick Dalton (1959), Tino Tabak (1965-67), Stephen Cox (1981-82), and Brian Fowler, who won a record eight times from 1985-1990, and 1992 and 1995, Cycling Southland events manager Bruce Ross said.
‘‘They have already confirmed their intentions to attend, with others likely to follow. A function on Saturday, October 29, will bring together these great names of the past and it is there that the reminiscing will commence as the great tales of the tour are told.’’
Other special events marking the anniversary will be a corporate road team time trial on October 30 and a workplace challenge ride from Stirling Point to the top of Bluff Hill to coincide with the BDO Bluff Hill stage of the tour on November
3.
A supporters’ bus would follow the tour on November 4 and it is likely some of the former champions would be aboard, Ross said.
The Tour of Southland was first held in 1956 as part of Southland’s centenary year celebrations. Apart from a break in 1958 it has has been held every year since.
The first tour over three days was won by Kelvin Hastie, of Dunedin, Ross said.
‘‘From its modest beginnings the tour has progressed significantly throughout the years and now stands proudly as a highlight of the national sporting calendar.
‘‘It is an event that has certainly stood the test of time while many other similar events have come and gone. The support of Southland businesses and public throughout the years has supplied the necessary support to maintain the annual event, and a hard working group of volunteers has provided the energy for the tour to survive through to the present day.’’
This year, major stage finishes at Lumsden, Te Anau, Coronet Peak, Bluff, Gore and Invercargill had been retained, he said, although several routes had been altered to retain riders’ interest.
The race was already attracting ‘‘immense interest’’ with several international riders already confirmed, he said.

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