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Torckler surges to Tour yellow jersey

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/11/2016

Michael Torckler has snatched the yellow jersey with a powerful final surge in a hilltop finish to the Tour of Southland's gruelling 138km third stage.

Torckler timed his run to the line perfectly, riding down the exhausted remnants of a four-man breakaway with less than a kilometre remaining.

The Cambridge-based cyclist clocked three hours 41 minutes and 18 seconds, 29 seconds ahead of second-placed Tim Rush with Olympic gold medal-winning rower Hamish Bond a further seven seconds behind in third.

Torckler now heads the general classification with four stages remaining, 36 seconds ahead of Vantage Windows & Doors teammate Bond.

Michael Vink (Mike Greer Homes) sits third overall, trailing Bond by 34sec.

"I was pretty excited to wake up in the morning and see it was going to be a calm, sunny day," said Torckler, who was nearly killed by a hit-and-run driver during a training ride in the United States in 2012.

"It doesn't get much better for me because I battle a bit in the crosswinds - this stage really suits my abilities and it's definitely my favourite stage on the tour."

Bond was also pleased with his effort.

"I came here on Thursday and rode up Coronet Peak and I knew I could get up here pretty quick," he said.

"I was really pleased to get up as fast as I could. Eighty kilos is a bit of weight to lug up that hill."

Rush was part of a four-strong group which broke clear of the peloton 20km into the challenging third stage from Mossburn to Coronet Peak.

The quartet, which also included Olympic cyclist Regan Gough, Nick Miller and Brendan Cole, opened out to a lead of 5min 30sec as the 100km mark neared.

But with less than 20km remaining, first Miller then Cole fell back, before Rush rode away from Gough to tackle the last 3km of the 9km climb to the finish on his own.

Torckler timed his run to perfection, catching Rush with less than a kilometre remaining before powering home for the win.

Thursday's 148km fourth stage from Invercargill to Bluff also provides a demanding finish to the top of Bluff Hill.

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