Rush eager for next challenge

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Tim Rush must be a glutton for punishment.
The talented Oamaru cyclist had barely finished the gruelling Tour of Southland when he started thinking of his next major challenge. “I’m actually thinking of doing a bit of mountain biking now,” Rush (26) told the Oamaru Mail earlier this week. “That big Pioneer race, the seven-day one, is in February, and me and my brother are going to do that. We’ll see how we go.” If Rush’s performance in the Tour of Southland is anything to go by, he will handle the steep parts of the Pioneer, which traverses the Southern Alps, just fine. He won the king of the mountains title on the tour, finishing with the polka dot jersey as part of the Mike Greer Homes team that finished second overall.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster, to be honest,” Rush said when asked to sum up his week in the South. “Some days were all right. But Thursday and Friday, when the weather turned, it was almost a case of wanting to pull out and just come back to work.
“But I’m happy, for sure. I was really glad to get a jersey out of it.” Rush finished with 26 points, six clear of his nearest competitor, in the mountain classification, and finished 33rd overall in the individual standings. He and his team-mates combined to help Michael Vink place second overall, just a couple of minutes behind champion Aaron Gates.
“The big thing for us was getting Michael second. I’ve ridden with a lot of the guys in the past. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we try to work together and feed off each other.” It was Rush’s sixth Tour of Southland, making him a virtual veteran of the peloton in New Zealand’s top multi-stage road race. “I think I felt a lot more confident going into it this year but I still knew it was going to be a hard week.” He saw little of father David and brother Kris, who were riding the tour with other teams. It has been a cracking year for Rush. The king of the mountains jersey in Southland followed his victory in the Calder Stewart elite series and the New Zealand club road championships earlier this year. He was back at work as a mechanic at Oamaru Honda this week and said getting his hands dirty was a nice way to take his mind off cycling for a while. “It’s been surprising.  “I’ve been back working this year _ last year I was in America _ and I think it’s just been about enjoying what I’m doing and being around good people.”