The cycling week has been dominated by Le Tour, features being Kiwi Julian Dean’s outstanding lead-out work and Mark Cavendish’s total domination of stage sprint finishes.
Closer to home this week we received further information from SPARC regarding its proposed Cycling Centre of Excellence.
Last month, Sports Minister Murray McCully announced that a hub of cycling excellence is to be developed to provide for all cycling disciplines (road, track, BMX, mountain bike). This week we learned a little more about the process.
Expressions of interest documentation will be released on July 30th and will be submitted to the SPARC High Performance Board by the end of August. Those expressions will be reviewed and from there a yet to be determined number will be confirmed to take part in the second phase. Request for Proposals will be released to the targeted regions/cities at the end of October and be submitted by the end of January 2011. Following a review of these proposals and presentations to its HP Board, SPARC will identify its preferred proposal. Then, subject to the Minister’s and the SPARC Board’s approval the decision will be confirmed by mid-April next year.
There is a lot we don’t know. The devil will be in the detail to be released later this month. The process outlined above would tend to suggest that politics will play its part. Bill and Eric, take this as a heads up to expect a call. What we do know is that a number of regional centres have lodged an interest and we are one of them.
We have an incredible facility which gives us a head-start. We have runs on the board with Bike NZ given that the ILT Velodrome has been the nation’s home of track cycling for the last four years. We have strong mountain-biking and BMX clubs and a proven ability to firstly build and then resource facilities which are world class. Sure, we could do with a few more hills for road racing, but a Central Otago base for a road programme would be a perfect fit.
Even given all of this, to my mind the biggest asset we will have in this process is community support. Many centres have talked about building a Velodrome, some for years. We just got on and built one. That is due to the commitment of passionate Southlanders and the outstanding support from funders, headlined by the Invercargill Licensing Trust and Community Trust of Southland. Those organisations make us the envy of the cycling community.
Back in my former life in radio I used to talk to businesses about point-of-difference. What’s the one thing that separates you from the guy across the road, pedalling the same goods or services.
Southland has a huge strategic advantage with the ILT Velodrome. This process isn’t just about cycling. It’s about answering whether we as a region want to give up an advantage like this and become just one of the crowd.
I know my answer.