SHANKS, SERGENT & CO TO LINE UP IN CYCLING SOUTHLAND ROAD CLASSIC
11/01/2011 - Cycling Southland’s calendar year starts with a bang this week with its annual New Year Cycling Series. Events include the Gore to Invercargill Road Classic on Thursday evening, ILT New Year Track Carnival at the ILT Velodrome on Friday and Saturday nights and concludes with the Ascot Park Hotel Criterium on Sunday.
This year’s series coincides with a major BikeNZ training camp in Invercargill as the High Performance squad is put through its paces ahead of its upcoming international campaigns which features World Cups in Beijing and Manchester over the next month before the Elite Track Nationals in Invercargill in late February and the World Champs in Denmark in March.
It means many of New Zealand’s top riders will test their legs in Thursday night’s road classic. A record field of 115 will line up at the Gore Showgrounds for the 6.30 start. The 67km handicap race will take riders from Gore, through Mataura, Seaward Downs, Rimu and Kennington before finishing on Tay Street (just past Inglewood Road) at approximately 8.15pm. The Invercargill Licensing Trust sponsored race is New Zealand’s oldest running road cycling classic and the 2011 edition will be its 81st.
The race was won in fine style last year by Peter Latham who also registered the fastest time. He lines up as defending champion alongside fellow BikeNZ team-mates Jesse Sergent, Sam Bewley, Westley Gough, Marc Ryan, Shane Archbold, Myron Simpson, Aaron Gate, Jason Christie and Cycling Southland’s-own Tom Scully, Pieter Bulling and Cameron Karwowski. The Women’s field will also include black skin-suits, headlined by Commonwealth Games and World Cup winning pursuiter Alison Shanks together with Gemma Dudley, Lauren Ellis, Alex Neems and Southland’s Sequoia Cooper.
Naturally, a strong Southland Club contingent from Under 19 to Veterans has also entered with many eyes likely to cast warily at last year’s Gore to Waikiwi Classic winner Steve Brough. This year’s field also features strong representation from Wakatipu and Otago with entries also received from Counties-Manukau, New Plymouth, Canterbury, Nelson and Te Awamutu.
Friday and Saturday night sees attention switch back to the track with the ILT Velodrome hosting its first major event of the New Year. The superstars of the BikeNZ squad, fresh from their gold-medal winning deeds in Columbia in December will again line up for two spectacular nights of sprint and endurance racing and after their incredible dead-heat in the Men’s Sprint in December’s ILT Festival of Speed, Eddie Dawkins and Simon van Velthooven will renew their rivalry on the Invercargill boards. The full programme of racing, featuring all age groups, will commence at 7.00pm each evening. Tickets are only $5 with children under 12 free and are available from Stadium Southland this week or at the door on the night.
Sunday’s Criterium at the Ascot Park Hotel for all grades starts at 11am.