Southland was once again thrust into the national spotlight thanks to the tireless efforts of a sporting club delivering New Zealand’s premier cycle race. Last week Cycling Southland hosted the 56th PowerNet Tour of Southland and captured significant exposure for the region in the process.
The event space is challenging right now and it’s hard work in the current economic environment. Considering the amount of prime time television coverage, newspaper inches, internet and radio, the Tour of Southland is a phenomenal promotional opportunity for Southland and one which we try and maximise for the benefit of the region. Sure, it’s about putting a bike race on, but it’s also about doing something for the province.
Again though, it’s the huge logistical challenge the PowerNet Tour presents which strikes me the most. Remember, it is actually an amateur not-for-profit sporting club that delivers this event. Fortunately, we’ve got a great servant in the form of Bruce Ross and his family, together with the huge amount of support we get from volunteers which just can’t be overstated. But it is a massive undertaking. I would understand if volunteers were there for the glory, high profile jobs but the reality is quite different. Scores of people take a week off work or away from families and personal commitments to do the hard yards, away from the spotlight. Their work is invaluable and they are the fabric which holds Cycling Southland and events like the PowerNet Tour all together
The level of support from officials and volunteers continues to grow and hopefully that’s an endorsement on the type of event we run. But it’s nothing you can take for granted and we need to take every opportunity to say an overwhelming thank you.
No rest though, as our attention has switched straight away to the ILT Velodrome for next week'’s WHK-sponsored Oceania Track Cycling Championships.
This is going to be some week of racing. As continental championships riders and nations earn vital qualification points for the London Olympics so for New Zealand, Australia and New Caledonia, there could not be more motivation. How many and who it is that goes to London could well be decided by what unfolds before us in Invercargill next week.
BikeNZ’s full elite squad will be in action and combined with a strong contingent of Australians these championships represent the best international field the ILT Velodrome has hosted in its five year history. Commonwealth Games champions, Olympic medallists, world champion and world record-holders will all be on the start line. Any wonder we are fizzing at the prospect?
The event also features the first ever Para-Cycling P1 Regional Cup event to be held in this country with riders from New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Poland and South Africa all competing with four current world champions among them.
Sessions start next Monday and are held daily through until Thursday from 10:00am and 6:30pm.
So if there was any thought of taking it easy after the biggest week of the year on Tour, think again.
Nick Jeffrey is Chief Executive of Cycling Southland