The curtain fell on the 2011-12 domestic track cycling season last weekend at the conclusion of the Age Group Track Championships and it also marked the end of a frenetic period for Cycling Southland.
It has been non-stop since October with seemingly one national or international event after another. From a hugely successful Yunca Junior Tour, through a heart-stopping PowerNet Tour of Southland, record-setting times at the WHK Oceania Track Champs, our full week of racing in the ILT New Year Cycling Series and then the recent Elite and Age Group Track National, it has been one heck of a ride.
At the end of it we have a pile of events which have been a great watch and have produced world-class performances from New Zealand’s increasing number of elite and junior road and track cyclists.
But due to the year-round nature of our sport, there is little time to draw breath and the few short paragraphs above are about all the reflection we have time for. The attention now switches to the road where yet another two major events are looming quickly on the horizon.
This week, our friends at the Wakatipu-Central Otago Cycling club host the Oceania Road Championships. After casting a quick eye across the entry list, I can confidently say this is going to be another fantastic event. The Australians are arriving in big numbers and the start lists boasts an Elite World Track Champion, Commonwealth Games gold medalist and multiple Junior World champions.
Racing starts on Friday with Time Trials for all age categories. Then on Saturday the Under-19 and Elite Women road race titles will be decided while the Under-19, Under-23 and Elite Men medals are handed out on Sunday. The course is based from the Distinction Hotel at Nugget Point and will be run over a circuit just a tick over 25 kilometres. With the ups and downs of Littles Road, long straights through Speargrass Flat, the nasty McIntyre’s Hill and the sweeping bends of Malaghans Road to finish, it is the definition of a championship course.
Then, hard on its heels, the 2012 version of the Vital Signs Tour de Lakes will be held across Central Otago over Easter Weekend. Thanks to the tireless work of Allan Dunn and his able lieutenants this event is always a highlight and it provides our “weekend warriors” with an opportunity to ride a multi-stage, three-day race. Team Dunny is the epitome of Cycling Southland’s fortune of having passionate volunteers who continue to contribute a phenomenal amount to the organisation and its riders.
There’s also the small matter of continuing preparations for the UCI Juniors Track World Championships in August and Invercargill’s hosting of BikeNZ for a pre-World Championship camp which will largely decide who gets to book a plane trip to London in July.
So you can see why we can only allow ourselves a brief look back at the last five or six months, because there’s a lot more where that came from!
Nick Jeffrey is Chief Executive of Cycling Southland