Cycling: Competition-starved Kiwi multisport star Mike Phillips tries hand at Tour of Southland

Like many other individual Kiwi athletes who ply their trade overseas, former NZ Ironman champion Mike Phillips has found himself stranded at home.

With countless events falling victim to COVID-19 over the past 18 months, Philips has been forced to expand his horizons, resulting in his impending debut in the upcoming Tour of Southland, starting October 31.

Phillips is used to putting in the long hours training but admits it's been tough not being able to compete overseas, which is why the Tour holds so much appeal for the competition-starved multisport athlete.

"It's really hard to get out of bed and go and put in the big miles when there's a small chance that event's actually going to happen, " Phillips tells Newshub. 

"I'm just trying to make the most of what I can do, and with the Tour of Southland coming up at the end of the month, I thought I'd jump in and see what it's all about."

Phillips was encouraged to make the jump by former schoolmate and two-time Tour of Southland winner Michael Vink, who will now become his teammate.

"It's good to be back in and part of a team," says Phillips. "Hopefully I'm not having to grab too many water bottles for him."

A fully fledged tour ride has a few notable differences from the cycling the 30-year-old is used to, one of which is that drafting behind other riders isn't allowed.

"It's much more on your own, whereas in the cycle races, it's big surges every now and again," he notes. "Everyone can draft together and it's quite tactical."

But the unfamiliar format offers one major perk - when a stage is done, he'll be able to get some rest before getting back on the bike the following day.

"It's going to be a real treat," he laughs. "Not having to run in and chuck your running shoes on and go out for a marathon."

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