Malcolm Rudolph finished third in stage one.
Malcolm Rudolph finished third in stage one.

Sheep stop Tour of Wellington

IT WASN’T only the crowds that flocked to see Malcolm Rudolph and the other elite cyclists in action in New Zealand this week.

The hills were alive with the sound of bleating sheep during the annual Tour of Wellington’s opening stage.

The 118km race from Upper Hutt to Masterton even came to a sudden halt after a wayward flock decided to cross the road around 100km into the race.

However, the 21-year Maryborough flyer didn’t let the four-legged intruders ruin his day though.

Rudolph, riding for the Australian Institute of Sport/Jayco Skins Racing Team, overcame the disruption and powered his way to finishing third overall.

He finished the race in just over three hours and just nine seconds behind the winner.

Not surprisingly, Rudolph said he’d encountered plenty of things in a race before but never sheep.

“You could say that it wasn’t only the steep climbs and fast descents that challenged us,” Rudolph laughed.

“I just couldn’t believe it when I saw that flock all over the road – lucky we got a bit of a warning.

“I suppose we were racing in New Zealand and there is a lot of sheep here.”

As for the race itself, Rudolph said he was pleased with his performance.

“The stage really sorted the climbers out that’s for sure,” Rudolph, who finished second the Australian Open Road Championship under 23 race in Victoria earlier this month, said.

“It was a tough day in the office so to finish third out of more than 100 or so riders felt good.”

Rudolph backed up 24 hours later by finishing inside the top 20 in stage two, a 125.3km race around Masterton.

The final three stages will be contested over the weekend.

After his New Zealand campaign is over, Rudolph and his team will go to India for some criterium racing.

That will be followed by the Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia and then five months racing in Italy and Europe.



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