Date: Monday, 25 March 2013
Posted by: Cycling Southland

 

This weekend emphasised we are in sporting silly season where winter and summer codes cross-over.

The Highlanders kept their 100 percent record, the Steel did the same with their winless streak in Australia over the last five years and the Black Caps showed enough to keep us interested at Eden Park.

From a cycling point of view it means the focus moves from track racing on the Velodrome to out on the road. And it all starts this weekend with the annual Vital Signs Tour de Lakes around Central Otago.

For most, Easter weekend means an extended chance to recharge after a hectic start to the year. For our energetic Tour de Lakes manager Allan Dunn, it is the culmination of months of hard work.

If there's a man in our club with more energy and passion for the sport than Dunny, I'm yet to meet him. He grabbed this event and over recent years has taken it to a new level, solely on the back of his enthusiasm and commitment to the sport and the Easter tour.

This event is very much pitched at the weekend warrior. It's the chance for club riders to test themselves over four days of racing starting with Friday's Prologue time trial to Cromwell and six road stages around Queenstown, Five Rivers, Te Anau and Glenorchy, finishing on Easter Monday.

This year, the event has another element as a perfect lead-up race to the 2013 Club Road Nationals later next month.

Our colleagues at the Central Otago-Wakatipu Cycling Club hosts the largest road and track national championship from April 18 to 21 in Queenstown. With over two weeks to entries closing, numbers look strong with over 600 predicted to take part across 14 different age categories in male and female grades.

The racing will be held on the same course we hosted last year's successful Oceania Road Championships on. A 25 kilometre loop course from Speargrass Flat Road around Millbrook, down Malaghans Road to the Coronet Peak turn-off before climbing Littles Road will test the senior age brackets, while a smaller loop down Hunter Road will be utilised for the junior and older masters' categories.

It will be a tough test, but that's the way it should be when it comes to winning national titles. Southland is a dominant force on the track courtesy of having Stadium Southland Velodrome open all hours, throughout the year, but the performance on the road at national level has been less prevalent over recent years.

The hope is, that with the nationals so close (it's the first time they will be in the South Island since 2009), a large Southland contingent will be on show over the four days of racing.

It won't be the gold-rush we are accustomed to reporting on during Track Nationals, but it will be a key building block in a longer term plan over the next three years to put Southlanders on national road podiums. What better place to start than Queenstown.

Nick Jeffrey is Cycling Southland's Chief Executive

 

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