Hastings professional rider Jeremy Vennell won a stage of the Tour of Southland yesterday and with four stages to go there's nothing he would like more than to nail another today.
"Tomorrow (today) I've got my climbing legs on for the Crown Range (the sixth 133km stage from Lumsden to the slopes of the Crown Range near Queenstown)," the American Bissell Pro team cyclist told SportToday yesterday.
Flagging any chance of finishing any better then his superb performance last year in the tour as runner-up, the 26-year-old is still seething about competitors' lack of etiquette after Cantabrian amateur Glen Rewi outsprinted Aucklander Alex Meenhorst to the line on Tuesday, leaving Vennell stranded about 20m behind in third.
Vennell claimed it was the second time he had been "stung" within a few weeks, saying former world junior cycling champion and fellow Hawke's Bay Ramblers Club member Jeremy Yates had dished out the same treatment to him late last month when Yates won the Coromandel's K2 cycle classic.
Returning to competition after serving a two-year ban imposed by the Belgian Cycling Union after he tested positive for abnormally high levels of testosterone in Belgium in March 2004, Yates had won the senior road race at the national club championship in Karaka on October 28 and the Auckland title earlier. Yates, riding for the Subway team, outlasted Vennell at the finish of the 200km stage.
Dropping a lot of time in the Southland tour hillclimb finish at Bluff on Monday, Yates made it into an early break in the afternoon stage yesterday to pick up enough points on the climbs to take over the king of the mountain lead.
Vennell said incidents such as those gave him and his team motivation. "In Coromandel we (he and Yates) had an agreement but he (Yates) didn't keep his word, so that's why he won. "Yesterday (Tuesday) I sped up and waited for the guy (Rewi) by slowing down for him into the wind and he promised he wouldn't do anything. I again got stung, lied to and cheated out of a win.
"Bunch etiquette is something all riders stick to in Europe because if you don't, the next day people will push you off the road.
"I can't see how you can enjoy winning when you don't keep your word. How do you tell your grandchildren down the road after you retire that you won races by not being truthful," Vennell lamented.
He thought he knew Yates well, considering their families often had dinner together.
"I suppose it's the dirty world of racing, something that you can find in any other sport or business. I suppose you also learn a lot about people, too, in such extreme circumstances."
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