Date: Wednesday, 07 March 2018

Accommodation in Invercargill is booked solid as a run of big events keep visitors coming to the city.

This week track cyclist from around the country will descend on the city for the Age Group Track Cycling National Championships.

Some 170 riders from across the country will be competing, ranging in age from 13 to 86, following hot on the heels of the Elite and under 19 championships that took place less than two weeks ago.

Cycling Southland general manager Mark Hotton said many out of town families were travelling down for the event, which features riders in the under 15, under 17, and masters divisions.

Once team helpers and officials are taken into account, it adds up to a considerable number of people staying in the city for the better part of a week, Hotton said.

The effect of many out of town visitors has been felt across the accommodation sector in Invercargill.

Kelvin Hotel general manager Aaron Mills said that the hotel has been booked solid since Burt Munro and the Southern Field Days.

"February is traditionally busy, but it has definitely been busier than usual," he said.

Having big events in the region had a positive impact on the wider community as well, as people went into town and spent money at local businesses, Mills said.

This was the first time in two years Invercargill had hosted the event, under a rotating hosting agreement with Cycling New Zealand which currently sees the event hosted in Cambridge every second year.

One of Southland's big medal hopes is under 17 cyclist Mitchel Fitzsimons, who won four national titles in the under 15 division last year.

It is Fitzsimons' first year racing in the under 17 division, and also his first year in Southland colours, having moved to Invercargill to attend Southland Boys High, with the presence of the velodrome and excellent coaching playing a big part in his decision as well.

Fitzsimons was confident that his first year in the division would be a successful one.

"There is some tough competition, but I should go allright. I know them all, and I've raced them all before," he said.

In the team events, especially the team pursuit, Fitzsimons expected Southland to do really well.

In addition to the younger riders, the event will also serve as the masters national championships, with titles available in age groups ranging from 35-39 all the way up to 80-plus.

Competition will take place over four days from Thursday, with 105 races as cyclists compete for national title honours.

Racing at the velodrome will start at 10am each day, with an evening session at 6pm, except for Sunday, when the final session starts at 2pm.

Photo and article courtesy STUFF

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