It’s great to be a Southlander. On Saturday evening we watched another gutsy Southland Stags’ effort and 12 hours earlier, 18,000 kilometres away in Italy, Southland’s Pieter Bulling was just as courageous, coming within an ace of standing on the podium at the Junior World Track Cycling Championships.
I awoke Saturday to a text from coach Stu Macdonald in which he used the term “pure Southland pride” to describe Bulling’s ride in the Points Race. Piet was one of five riders who lapped the rest of the field and finished just a point behind the bronze-medal winner. With two fourths from his first two events, (his final ride is this morning NZ time in the Madison) Bulling will certainly not lack for motivation as he eyes a second shot at the Worlds in 12 months time.
Without wanting to buck the trend of Aussies claiming credit for a Kiwi when it suits them, we can also claim a small piece of the performance of our Trans-Tasman neighbour. Again Australia has shown its class as a world cycling powerhouse at the Junior Worlds and over recent years a number of its 2010 Junior team has spent time around Southland in the Yunca Junior Tour and on the ILT Velodrome. It’s a pointer to the quality events and facilities our young riders are blessed with in the south and the wonderful opportunity it presents Southlanders to achieve on the world stage.
Already a large Australian contingent is lining up for this year’s edition of the Yunca Tour. With renewed focus over recent years this event has enjoyed a real growth spurt. It has always provided a launching pad for top southern talent, Glenn McLeay, Matt Randall, Glen Thomson have all cut their teeth in the event, but more recently it has quickly become one of Australasia’s premier Junior events. This year it also has the honour of being the last event in the National Junior Points Series and like all of the events in the Cycling Southland calendar, it is only possible thanks to the unwavering support of an army of parents and Club volunteers. This year’s Yunca Tour runs from October 1st to 3rd and is followed by our OctoberFest Track Event on the 5th and 6th.
Saturday also saw another record turn-out for Cycling Southland’s Road Race at Woodlands. A total of 114 riders lined up at the start line across Junior, Senior and Recreational Divisions. The major lesson I have learnt in my four months in this role is that Cycling Southland is first and foremost a sporting club. The single most important thing we do is provide the best opportunities for our Club members to ride. While hosting major national and international road and track events is wonderful, it is merely the by-product of a strong local riding scene. If we continue to do the best job possible for local riders, everything else will follow. And the really exciting thing is that we are just getting started.