The race conditioning of two leading Southland cyclists could be the deciding factor in the Gore to Waikiwi Classic cycle race on Saturday.
Luke Macpherson and Matt Zenovich are preparing for a tilt at the SBS Bank Tour of Southland later this year, and will use the handicapped weekend race as valuable preparation.
The 78-kilometre George Wilson Sales/Southland Farm Machinery-sponsored race is one of three Classics run by Cycling Southland, with riders from through Otago and Southland expected to line up.
A shorter race is offered for the increasing number of junior riders taking part in road cycling.
Cycling Southland general manager Mark Hotton said it was likely the race result would depend a lot on how well the front markers were able to work together.
"At this stage the weather forecast looks good so those conditions may favour those off first – if they can keep up a solid pace, then it'll be a tough challenge for the chasing groups."
Zenovich has had a stint racing in China this year and Macpherson has put in some solid performances in recent months, and both are likely to feature in the final sprint.
"The undulating terrain of the route back to town will be a test for everyone but those riders preparing for the Tour should be well ahead in their race conditioning and that could be the difference on the day," Hotton said.
"But it is a cycle race and anything could happen."
The race starts at 1.30pm from the Gore Town and Country Club, with the first riders expected over the finish line on McIvor Rd, near Donovan Park, about 3pm.
Caption: Luke Macpherson at the 2017 Vital Signs Tour de Lakes