Stage 3 of the 2017 PIONEER proved to be more than riders bargained for.
The day dawned wet, cold and windy this morning in Fairlie, forcing Pioneer organisers into plan B mode with the 80km stage to Lake Tekapo altered to avoid the first climb out of Fairlie and over the Albury Range.
It certainly proved a popular decision amongst the 338 riders given many of them would be out on the stage for five or more hours, with the risk of the cold and in particular the high winds atop Albury too big to allow the race to follow its intended course.
In the end the forecast of improving weather had the riders still battling the wind as they crested Burkes Pass and rode down into Tekapo, but by then the sun was out and the temperatures were warming as the rain jackets and thermals were tucked away for the ride home.
It proved to be a statement day for overall race leaders Watson and Son Manuka Honey, with James Williamson and Scott Lyttle riding away from their main contenders, putting valuable time on the Spanish Imparables team of Ibon Zugasi and Tommi Misser and Alps to Ocean team of Tim and Kris Rush (Oamaru).