On the local front the track cycling season has come to a close and Cycling Southland members’ attention has quickly switched to the road. After months of build-up to the Track Nationals held in Invercargill earlier this month, some will crave time off the bike at this time of year. However the national calendar offers little respite with the RaboDirect Club Road nationals scheduled for Wanganui in early May.
It means that the McLeay Jewellers Southland Road Championships will be held this weekend. Saturday sees a time trial across various distances for 13 separate junior, senior and masters categories at Waianawa while the action moves to Wyndham and Seaward Downs on Sunday for the road races.
It is certainly not an easy turn-around but one talented young lady didn’t let that stop her over the weekend. Alexandra’s Sophie Williamson claimed bronze at the UCI Oceania Road Championships held in Australia on Saturday. She was outstanding at the Track Nationals, claiming three gold medals including the Omnium title where she won five of the six events. To turn around and earn a podium finish against Australasia’s best over the 70 kilometre distance on the road, shows just how bright her future is.
After all this success, it is difficult to remember that 2011 marks Williamson’s first year in the Under 19 grade. She faces a busy year with potential to represent New Zealand at both the Junior Track and Road World championships this year. Although a lot can happen in 18 months, it seems hard not to see her as the cornerstone of the New Zealand squad when the Junior World Track Champs come to Invercargill in August of next year.
This week also saw the New Zealand elite team depart Invercargill’s ILT Velodrome bound for the World Track Champs which start later this week at Apeldoorn in the Netherlands. Some tough selection calls had to be made (Wes Gough, Ruhlee Buchanan and Gemma Dudley all missing final team selection) which shows the growing depth Tim Carswell and his team are developing. Cycling Southland will again be well represented with Eddie Dawkins and Tom Scully both lining up in the black skinsuit. The action starts in the early hours of Thursday morning NZ time, with the Mens’ Team Sprint and Team Pursuit medals decided on the opening night. The sprint lads have been setting some lightening quick times in training, while the Team Pursuit combination has welcomed back Jesse Sergent and Sam Bewley from their RadioShack Pro Tour commitments, so hopes are high of a strong showing to kick off the BikeNZ campaign on Thursday.
And to finish, a quick word on our next marquee event of 2011, the Harrex Group Corporate Pursuit. Entries will open soon for one of our most popular and enjoyable events of the year. This year the event is slightly later to accommodate the Steel and Sharks games at the ILT Velodrome and will be held on July 24th and 31st. Watch this space.
Nick Jeffrey is Chief Executive of Cycling Southland