This year’s Tour of Southland cycle race will carry and important road safety message, with this week’s announcement of a new partnership between event hosts Cycling Southland and Road Safety Southland.
The Share the Road message has been a fixture in the Tour peloton over recent years, with its team earning stage and classification victories with riders the caliber of Jack Bauer, Jeremy Yates and last year’s sprint ace winner, Australian Sam Witmitz.
This year the message will not be confined to one six-strong team, but the entire event with Road Safety Southland becoming a major feature sponsor for this year’s Tour.
“We’ve been delighted with the profile the team has provided us over the last few years, but this new partnership gives us the chance to re-energize the Share the Road message in New Zealand’s most recognized cycling event,” said Road Safety Southland Road User Safety Advisor Jane Ballantyne.
“With cycling becoming more and more popular and more bikes on the roads, this message becomes increasingly important and to do it with Cycling Southland through the Tour and through the year makes perfect sense.”
Tour of Southland Director Bruce Ross agreed. “The unfortunate reality is that we are reminded too regularly of what can happen when motorists and cyclists don’t share the road, this week’s tragic crash in Waikato the latest. There’s no question it’s a message everyone who spends any time on a bike or behind the wheel would support.”
Mr Ross says there are a number of new initiatives planned for this year’s event recognizing the road safety message, starting with the Share the Road Ride with the Stars on Sunday 3 November and including new schools-based competition and activities and website promotions. “I say it every year, but the support we get from Southland schools and the community is legendary. There’s going to be more opportunities for Southland classrooms to get involved in this year’s event which is exciting.”
Cycling Southland Chief Executive Nick Jeffrey said the Tour of Southland relationship was the first step in an on-going relationship with Road Safety Southland.
“Share the Road is a shared responsibility. Too often the debate becomes a cyclist verses motorist one or vice versa when cyclists, motorists and pedestrians all have a job to do to keep themselves and each other safe. For Cycling Southland and Road Safety Southland this isn’t going to be told over a couple of weeks every November, it’s a year-round message and one we both plan to have front and centre throughout the entire year, Mr Jeffrey said.
The 2013 Tour of Southland is to be held from November 3 to 9, starting with the Share the Road Ride with the Stars and traditional Team’s Time Trial prologue, before six days of stage racing over a revised course which will be announced later in the month.
Entries for the Tour open next month with strong interest from New Zealand and internationally.