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Riding in the 1968 Rothmans Cycling Tour of Southland proved more about dodging stones of both sorts on the first and second day. On the first day the bikers battled stones on the Orawia Road which lasted for 2km. The bikers were continually showered by stones that were being ricocheted off their fellow riders. If they thought that was tough going they then encountered huge hail stones on most of the second day, they did not let up for approx 100 km.
The New Zealand 100 mile champion and Southlander, Graeme Hill was leading the bunch but was taken over just before Lumsden by Tino Tabak from Christchurch. Tabak won the sprint by three lengths.
With ten miles to go to the finish Graeme Hill rode a great tactical race to come out of the bunch and join Tabak and even though he got ahead of Tabak he could not keep him at bay. Third over the line was Merv Davis of Invercargill and behind him was Murray Walker of Australia.
A field of 81 riders started at Invercargill and by the time they got to Lumsden there were only 17 left. It would have to be one of the most hardest and treacherous day of racing encountered by most of these riders.
Gordon Wilson of Invercargill was in second place in The King of the Mountain and sharing this with Tony Ineson with both behind in points to Tabak. After the Glenham Hill, Wilson pulled out of the race.
Dave Watson and Merv Davis punctured just after Riversdale and could not catch the bunch. Due to the weather the field was rather spread out, but the leaders were being pegged back by a determined bunch of Walker, Hill, Berry, Hogan and Les Booth who was riding strongly.
The bunch were catching Tabak but he found another gear and took off with Hill. The Glenham Hill sorted out the bunch and became too much for Swanston and he dropped back leaving it up to Tabak, Davis and Watson to fight it out on the way to Riversdale. The main bunch chased hard but after Riversdale fell to bits and it was up to Tabak and Hill to fight it out to the finish.
Reference: The Southland Times September 1968
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