After all the bantering of the last few months on the Tour of Samoa Social pages, the real business is here for Samoa Events’ 4th Ford Tour of Samoa which starts on Monday.
Leading the charge this year for the Men’s title is defending champion Tim Robertson, himself a fine rider and all round nice bloke worthy of a repeat victory - if the other riders will have it.
They are mates after all. Friends made from Tours past and club rides and other events down under. Most of the 36 male riders arriving in the country for the Ford Tour know each other well enough. Will they do the courtesy thing and allow their mate a second tour victory?
They will not. We can be sure of that.
Once the brakes are off on Day 1, there will be a dozen serious riders who will be jostling for positons up front.
Each will challenge to be the first wearer of the Tour leader’s jersey, the first time a Leader’s jersey will make an appearance on the Tour. There is a separate leader’s jersey for the Women’s Tour.
But first, each of the good keen men will look to exceed themselves and their training through the southern winter. And as a matter of pride, knock Tim off his pedestal and raise the victory salute alone come Saturday next week.
Tim himself will ride the same way he did last year, with tact and smarts, ready to pounce on opportunities that may arise on Tour, in order to advance his cause.
Lurking in the shadows will be the Wengler brothers. They are threatening men on cycles. First two-times champion Christian Wengler (2014 and 2015) will want his title back. Then there is Grant Wengler who is twice as fast as he was on Tour last year – we are told.
The unknown is where the real threat is; Michael Dam from Tim’s Footscray Cycling Club in Melbourne makes his first foray into the islands chasing his fortunes. There is also Mike Sanders out of Auckland. He is a great rider too. Another to return this year and will pose a threat is Kiwi legend Steve Gurney.
It means Tim’s chances are as good as the lottery on the weekend. He has to throw everything at it, ride well and ride safely, in order to give himself great odds should an opportunity arise along the way. He has done it before.
Tour of Samoa Schedule
Monday, Stage 1, Apia to Siumu via Lalomanu, 100km
Tuesday, Maninoa Siumu to Manase, 95kms
Wednesday, Manase to Asau, 37kms
Thursday, Asau to Faga, 100kms
Friday, Rest Day
Saturday, Tour Victory Peloton to Apia, Faga to Apia, 47kms
Follow the Ford Tour on SamoaEvents.com or hashtag #tourofsamoa.