FROM THE SOUTHLAND TIMES
Cycling Southland's move into the Catlins for a race later this month is not a prelude to the Tour of Southland heading in that direction but it could develop into something bigger in the future.
Cycling Southland, in conjunction with Tourism Catlins, will stage a new addition to its winter road programme on May 15.
The event will run alongside the opening day of the Catlins Great Escape, a two-day 100km scenic ride through the rugged southern coastal area.
Some cycling pundits have suggested the Catlins would make an ideal place for a new stage on the six-day Tour of Southland, but race director Bruce Ross said there were some logistical issues that possibly counted against that happening.
"We've looked at it a number of times.
"One of the issues is that it's hard to get a road which links back up with somewhere else we want to go to. I think it's a brilliant part of the country, it's a well-kept secret and I think we should be showing the piece of land off."
Ross said it was not preferrable to have an out-and-back type of stage, while another option would be to add another day to the Southland tour.
"It would be good to include it, but there are a few problems with logistics and including it in the programme we have now. It certainly won't be this year but we are entertaining the idea of future tours."
Instead, Cycling Southland will run a graded race, with A-grade riders travelling from the Niagara Falls cafe to Paptowai, B-grade riders heading to Tautuku, and C-grade riders going to the Chaslands before returning to the start/finish for prizegiving.
"Now it's sealed it's a brilliant piece of road," Ross said.
"It's reasonably close to town and it's got some good hills. I think it makes for some pretty spectacular racing. It will certainly be hard enough."
Tourism Catlins projects co-ordinator Kim Dodds said the initiative was exciting for the Catlins.
"We have been encouraging Cycling Southland to look at the Catlins as a venue for their road cycling series. This is the perfect destination for the sport."
Entries for the Catlins Great Escape are still open.