There's little doubt that 2012 has been a massive year for Cycling Southland, headlined by our hosting of the UCI Juniors Track World Championships in August and by a large number of stand-out performances at national and international by the south's elite and junior riders.
Next week, in my final column for the year I will relive the craziness of the last twelve months, but today it is a quick look forward to what the New Year holds.
The first month of the year is chock full of championship racing the Elite Road and Track Championships scheduled. First up, the Elite Road Championships in Christchurch from January 11 to 13. Last year Cycling Southland's James Williamson and Nicky Samuels doubled-up for an unprecedented double in winning both elite men's and women's road racing titles, Southland's first national road title since 1968.
Closer to home, we hit the ground running with our annual ILT New Year Cycling Series. This begins on January 18 and 19 with the traditional New Year Track Carnival starting at 7pm both nights. This event is always a great way to get the year underway and with the Track Nationals to follow just over ten days later it is a crucial build-up event.
The Elite and Under 19 Track Nationals will be held from January 31 to February 3. In recent years, some members of the High Performance squad have had limited campaigns. No so in 2013. The national selectors have been very clear that performances at these nationals will dictate selections for the international campaigns for the remainder of the year. It is the key selection event and we'll get the benefit.
With a pared back international programme in 2013 as the first year in a new Olympic cycle, riders will have precious few competition opportunities to show why they should have a spot in the squad building to Rio in 2016. Next month's Track nationals and the Oceania Championships in Invercargill in November will benefit as the best in the business will have to fire to earn spots in the black skin suit throughout the year.
Last weekend's Southland Track Champs really fired us up for the upcoming championship season. To have over 120 riders racing at our local championships is easily a record and underlines the continued growth in the sport.
A number of new names have earned selection in the Nationals training squads directly on the back of their performances last weekend and the quality of riding, along with depth of talent which is developing across all our age groups from under-15 to Masters is heartening.
The World Championships are to be held in Minsk, Belarus in mid-February and then our Age Group athletes take centre stage from February 26 to March 2.
And just because we would hate for you to think we weren't busy enough, the Club Road nationals - the biggest national cycling championship in number-terms, is this year being held in Queenstown in April.
Better rest up over Christmas then!
Nick Jeffrey is Chief Executive of Cycling Southland