TOM Scully hasn’t forgotten his roots.
Scully is just days away from ticking off a special moment for Southland cycling when he becomes the first Southlander to line up in the world’s premier road cycling race, the Tour de France.
The 28 year old was last week named in the EF Education First-Drapac team to ride in the tour, which will run from July 7 through to July 29.
Before the news was made public the former Verdon College pupil had a couple of phone calls to make back to Invercargill.
One of them was to Glen Thomson.
Scully had worked at Thomson’s Cycle Surgery shop in Invercargill from his school days through to the early days of his elite career.
He also lived upstairs in the flat above Cycle Surgery.
Another was to Hamish Murie, the owner of Bennetts Shoe Repairs in Invercargill.
Murie has been a long-time supporter of Scully.
“I used to give him $500 so he had the fuel to get to different races,” Murie said.
“Later on I’d help him with flights to get him up to the nationals.”
Despite trying to get his head around the biggest assignment of his life, Scully took time to call home to let the people who had supported him from the start know he had been offered the opportunity of a lifetime.
Both Thomson and Murie were not surprised he hadn’t forgotten the people of Invercargill.
“It is just the sort of guy he is,” Thomson said.
Academy Southland manager Jason McKenzie has been another key figure in mentoring Scully through his development.
He, too, suggested the type of person Scully was had played a key role in getting him to the start line of the Tour de France.
“He’s got a huge heart, in both ways. He is the sort of guy that if you asked him for help with something, he’d do it. He also has got a huge heart where he just keeps going on the bike.”
McKenzie said they had already used Scully’s journey as an example for other promising Southland athletes when explaining what it took to reach a goal.
Scully came up short at two Junior World Championships and was involved in an horrific crash in Ireland.
While he felt like chucking it in at times, he never did, McKenzie said.
“A lot of people are not prepared to do that,” McKenzie said.
Long-time coach, mentor and friend Jerard Stock is in France and will follow Scully’s progress during the tour, a prospect which has him buzzing.
“Of the 1500 professional cyclists of all different levels around the world, there is only a very small percentage that ever get to do it.
“There have been New Zealanders do it, but it’s good to see a Southlander there flying the flag,” Stock said.
Scully will be one of four New Zealanders competing in this year’s Tour de France.