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Vink gets stage win and yellow jersey

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3/11/2016

Christchurch cyclist Michael Vink has overcome tough conditions to snatch both a stage win and the yellow jersey in the Tour of Southland.

Victory for Vink (Mike Greer Homes) on the 148km fourth stage from Invercargill to the top of Bluff Hill gave him a 2min 14sec advantage over the rest of the field.

Previous leader Michael Torckler (Vantage Windows and Doors) is second, while Hayden Roulston (Placemakers) is third, 8s further back, with two days to go.

The field was buffeted by 40km/h winds on Thursday and there was a mix of rain and occasional sunshine.

Vink says he didn't mind the weather as it kept the riders together.

He knew Roulston was keen to make a break, "but that headwind forced everyone together, which was actually quite good for someone like me".

A 20-strong breakaway group set the early pace.

But Vink, Roulston, Alex Frame (Kia Motors-Ascot Park Hotel), Aaron Gate (Creation Signs-L&M Group Ricoh) and Dutch rider Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (PowerNet) shuffled their way forward.

The quintet took charge all the way to Bluff before losing Frame to a puncture with 3km to go.

Vink, a multiple under-23 road race champion, then jumped away midway up the Motu Pohue climb.

Although the route was different, Vink said it was a typical Bluff stage, with action from the start.

"I think everyone knew things were going to happen, and they sure did and I'm happy to profit from it," he said.

The tour continues on Friday with a 151km stage from Invercargill to Gore.

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