The Australian rider Ben Hill has won the first stage of the tour of Southland.
Blustery conditions greeted the riders for the 168km opening stage from Invercargill to Gore.
Twenty five kilometres into the stage, a break of three riders Keiran Hambrook, Luke Macpherson and Hill managed to get clear and began working to build their advantage.
They were joined by three additional riders Jacob Grieve, Justin Stott and Thomas Stewart and the six together opened a maximum advantage of 3 minutes 30 seconds.
The peloton had been split by crosswinds but, with 50kms to go, they started to reel the breakaway back.
The break was soon strengthened when 2012 Tour winner Auckland rider Mike Northey bridged the gap and soon took more time from the remnants of the peloton.
A chase effort from many teams brought them back in touching distance of the break at 20km to go.
Northey, Englishman Stewart and Hill with the help of a strong tailwind then picked up the pace and left the peloton behind.
Waikato's Hayden McCormick managed to join the leading trio but with 150m to the finish Hill jumped from the quartet to claim the stage win narrowly from McCormick who was credited with the same time.
Northey, the national criterium champion, was third was but retains the overall lead with yesterday's prologue times included.
Tomorrow's second stage is a 138km ride from Invercargill to Drummond and returning to finish with the formidable Bluff Hill Climb.