The Rotorua cyclist Sam Bewley wants to go out in style when he tackles the 53rd edition of the Tour of Southland starting today.
Bewley, part of the medal winning team pursuit at the Beijing Olympics, will join Lance Armstrong's new Radio Shack pro tour team in the New Year, ruling him ineligible for the country's premier road tour.
The 22-year-old is a key member of the powerful Zookeepers combination, one of a record 25 teams to line-up for the six-day tour which starts with a prologue in Invercargill.
Bewley believes he is in better shape than last year's Tour of Southland but does not consider himself as a candidate for general classification honours.
His goal is to support fellow Olympian Glen Chadwick and powerful US-based kiwi Heath Blackgrove.
There are 35 overseas riders in the field of 125 including American Floyd Landis, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for failing a doping test and then serving a 2-year ban.
New Zealander Hayden Roulston will defend his title.
The first day includes a prologue around Queens Park in Invercargill before the 82km stage to the top of Bluff Hill in the afternoon.