The forecast for Southland this week is extreme speed. The ILT Festival of Speed begins tomorrow night headlined by New Zealand’s leading endurance and sprint men and women, along with international riders from Australia, the Pacific and Europe.
The New Zealand team fresh from winning a full set of medals at the Melbourne World Cup rolled into town last night. It is an arduous pre-Christmas schedule for the squad with Oceanias and two World Cups in the space of five weeks but with each outing the BikeNZ squad continues to impress.
Shane Archbold’s incredible effort in winning the Omnium in Melbourne (cycling’s equivalent of the decathlon) stamps his name as one to watch this week - his mullet also makes him hard to miss. The phenomenal silver medal-winning ride from Aaron Gate and Myron Simpson in the Madison on Thursday night means they will start as short-priced favourite in tomorrow night’s RaboDirect Madison Champs while the Team Sprint combination of Eddie Dawkins, Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell will go head-to-head in our sprint competition – a mouth-watering prospect for those of us taking a seat at the ILT Velodrome.
We are delighted to also feature international talent from all over the globe. The Swiss combination of Gregory Hugentobler and Cyrille Thiery arrive fresh from Melbourne while Jerry Bousquet & Mike Michel-Villaz add to the Euro flavour, riding under the French flag from New Caledonia. And then comes the Aussie contingent. Despite clashing with the Australian Madison Champs on Friday the green and gold will be well represented with Tasmanian flyer Clay Murfet and former Trexlertown Riders of the Year Doug Repacholi and Laura McCaughey. They will be joined by impressive Institute of Sport sprinters Tim McMillan, Jamie Green and Zac Deller in the men’s field and Cassandra Kell and Madison Law in the women’s. The raw power of these young Aussie sprinters was one of the talking points from our riders returning from the Oceania Champs. To see them first hand will be yet another treat.
So all is in readiness. The entertainment including Stunt BMX rider Paul Langlands and friends, our live bands The Heartleys and Lipstick, celebrity racers and our large swag of prizes is all ready. All you need to do is turn up. Tickets for the ILT Festival of Speed and for our Thursday morning Gold Medal Breakfast with Ali Shanks are on sale at Stadium Southland.