7 Nov 2009

Blackgrove claims Tour of Southland title

5:18 pm on 7 November 2009

The United States-based New Zealand cyclist Heath Blackgrove has enjoyed the biggest day of his life, winning the 53rd Tour of Southland before rushing off to get married.

His Zookeepers-Cycle Surgery team only had to cover the options on the final 65km stage into Invercargill after main rival Marc Ryan (Timaru, ColourPlus) missed the key break in the morning 79-km stage from Te Anau to Lumsden.

Blackgrove, the Waimate rider who competes for Team Hotel San Jose, had the luxury of enjoying the final three laps around Queens Park in Invercargill to savour his first major stage tour win, in a race that has become special to him.

The 28-year-old met local triathlete Sharyon Johns at the Zookeepers Cafe where she worked on the 2001 Tour of Southland. Blackgrove barely had time to complete the formalities after his victory before he was whisked away to marry Johns at the home of team manager Paul Clark.

Blackgrove took the overall honours by 1 mintue 3 seconds from fellow New Zealander Jack Bauer with Tom Findlay third at 1 minute 16seconds.