London Olympic cyclist Westley Gough has won the prologue in the testing Tour de Pays de Savoie high in the French Alps.
Gough and the BikeNZ endurance track squad are competing in the challenging four-day tour in the Rhone Alps near the border of Italy and Switzerland as part of their preparations for the Olympics.
The Hawkes Bay rider was fastest around the 3.8km prologue circuit in Chambery as the New Zealand team all impressed, with teammates Marc Ryan second, Shane Archbold fourth, Aaron Gate seventh and Myron Simpson 10th.
Gough clocked 5:07.36 for the 3.8km circuit with fellow team pursuiter Ryan two seconds back.
“It was a fairly twisty and hilly course. I liked it,” said Gough. “I'm not here to win the overall. I'll try to do my best but the course is too hard for me. "
Gough was a busy man in today’s prologue presentations, collecting the stage winner’s yellow jersey the orange jersey as tour leader, the points leader’s jersey as well as accepting the award for the leading team.
The Tour de Pays de Savoie is a UCI 2.2 rated tour, considered among the toughest of tests in Europe for young riders under 26 years.
Tomorrow’s first stage of 127km takes in three category climbs with a mountain top finish on the Col de Solaison at 1500m. Stage two is 160km with a daunting six category climbs culminating with the Cormet de Roseland, an ascent of 1000m over 19kms while the final stage of 133km, which crosses into Italy with a double ascent of the Mont Cenis, with the road over this pass built originally by Napoleon.
The tour forms the last of the current road block for the squad before a training session on the track at the UCI’s World Training Centre in Switzerland. There is a further block of road racing before the full squad heads to the velodrome in Bordeaux for final preparations for London.
Results, Tour de Pays de Savoie, 3.8km prologue: Westley Gough (NZL) 5:07.36, 1; Marc Ryan (NZL) 5:09.92, 2; Tim Wellens (BEL, Lotto-Bellisol) 5:10.64, 3. Also New Zealanders: Shane Archbold 5:13.13, 4; Aaron Gate 5:18.61, 7; Myron Simpson 5:21.54, 10; Alex Frame 5:43.35, 92.