After last weekend’s wonderful Yunca Junior Tour of Southland, Cycling Southland’s focus switched indoors to Stadium Southland’s ILT Velodrome last Tuesday and Wednesday nights for the staging of our Trans Tasman Junior Track Cycling Challenge.
A large contingent of junior bike riders from New South Wales, Western Australia, Brisbane and Wagga Wagga lined up under the green and gold banner to take on this country’s best and brightest over two great nights of racing.
Watching big fields circulating the ILT Velodrome at pace is truly spectacular and the crowds were treated to some of the closest racing across the full programme in recent times. In the end, New Zealand etched its name on the silverware but you can’t help but be impressed with the visiting Australians. We got a glimpse at the long term development planning the country employs, the fruits of which have been very apparent in Dehli over the past week. I have little doubt that we will hear more from some of the visiting names, brought to our shores last week.
There were also some eye-catching displays from our Kiwi boys and girls also. Cycling Southland’s own Matt Archibald is a name to watch. Sure I’m a little biased because I employ the bloke, but he was untouchable whenever he got a sniff of the finish line last week and as he continues to refine his craft he is likely to feature prominently at the highest levels. It’s not inconceivable that Sam Webster might be sandwiched between two Southlanders in the NZ Team Sprint line up before too long.
Pieter Bulling also showed his unquestioned class (when doesn’t he?) and young South Canterbury lad Dylan Kennett underlined his name as one of the best in the business. He is likely to be one of our best chances when the UCI World Juniors Track Championships are staged in Invercargill in 2012.
A number of those on the boards last week will pull the New Zealand skinsuit on for the Oceania Championships at the end of next month at the Super-Drome in Adelaide. The early-season form shown on the ILT Velodrome last week points to a cracking track season ahead.
The frenetic last few weeks locally has also coincided with the shop window for the sport – the BikeNZ Elite NZ team – running into excess baggage issues following their medal haul at the Commonwealth Games, even if a few more God Defend New Zealands and a few less Advance Australia Fairs would have been preferable.
From an event perspective our attention now swings to the PowerNet Tour of Southland which is only three short weeks away. This is a massive undertaking for our Club under the tutelage of long-time Tour Director Bruce Ross and there are some exciting story-lines developing ahead of the 2010 event. We know there will be drama. All that needs to be decided is who will provide it, when and where. Not many local events reach iconic status, but that title sits comfortably around the PowerNet Tour.