The World Junior Cycling Championships are being staged in Italy this week. The Road Championships have already begun but from a Southland perspective our interest will focus on the Track Championships in Montichiari, where on Thursday morning our time, our own Pieter Bulling and the rest of the Kiwi Track squad will line-up for the start of a busy five days.
Bulling is unquestionably one of the most talented all-round riders in the Men’s squad and even though this is his Junior Worlds debut he represents New Zealand’s best medal chance in a majority of the endurance track events.
However, due to the congested nature of the programme, team management have been forced to make some strategic decisions about which events he enters to ensure he is at the peak of his powers when he lines up in the black skin-suit. The question for coach Stu MacDonald and co is where to focus Piet’s attention to give him the best chance of emulating Southland’s Cameron Karwowski’s medal winning effort in Moscow 12 months ago.
Bulling will start his campaign in the early hours of Friday morning our time when he lines up in the Teams Pursuit Qualifying. Early Saturday he will compete in the Points Race, before teaming up with Canterbury’s Alex Frame in the Madison on Monday morning.
Bulling adds another name to a long list of Southland youngsters who have represented their country on the World Junior stage. Last year Karwowski won gold in the Team Sprint, while Hamish Tomlinson just missed out on a podium finish in the Teams Pursuit.
In 2008, Southland’s Cathy Jordan and Sequoia Cooper teamed with Gemma Dudley to claim silver in the Women’s Team Pursuit in South Africa and in 2007 Jordan had a couple of Southland lads by the name of Dawkins and Scully who have gone on to be reasonable bike riders.
The build-up to Piet’s trip to Italy has also provided a reminder that Invercargill’s hosting of the 2012 event is now just two years away. This week’s UCI Management Committee meeting should provide us with confirmed dates and our planning will then be able to begin in earnest.
If you are going to host any World Championship the Juniors is the one to get. Depending on how optimistic you are, there could be anywhere up to a thousand international visitors descending on Invercargill in a couple of years.
Already we have engaged the service of Arthur Klap to assist with our initial planning and organisational structure. If there is a major event to be staged in New Zealand, Arthur’s normally involved somehow. His insights have already been invaluable and our international promotional campaign begins this week in Italy. We are making sure New Zealand (and Southland) is on the radar a long way out.
Seeing a young Southlander in the silver fern on the top step of the podium sometime over the next week would provide a nice helping hand to our efforts. Go hard Piet.