A strong field of riders including the defending champion, Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallists - with Southland's own Pieter Bulling and Cam Karwowski in the mix - and a former UCI Omnium World Champion, will contest Friday’s Criterium National Championships in Auckland.
Southland's newest recruit to the Elite ranks - Nick Kergozou - will also be making the trip to continue building on the strong form he has been showing over the past year.
Last year’s open men’s winner, Mike Northey will defend his title, but will face stiff competition from members of the national endurance team that recently competed in the opening UCI Track World Cup. Those riders include Olympic medallists Marc Ryan and Westley Gough, former UCI Omnium World Champion Aaron Gate, Bulling and Karwowski. Despite being much flatter than the normal courses he rides, Glasgow Commonwealth Games mountain bike silver medallist, Sam Gaze will also contest the pinnacle road cycling event.
Mike Northey says he’s looking forward to the race and feels well prepared. “I’ve had a good build up with the Tour of Southland and managed to wear the yellow jersey for a day, so I think I’m set to give it (the Criterium) a bit of a tickle-up.”
“It’s an event I enjoy because there’s intense, hard racing and a lot of it comes down to bike handling and carrying speed through the corners,” added Mike.
The open women’s field will also be strong, with defending champion Emily Collins lining up, along with Rushlee Buchanan, Lauren Ellis, Jaime Nielsen, Racquel Sheath and Georgia Williams - all members of the track endurance team that competed in the Mexico UCI World Cup.
The 1.1km criterium course is set in the heart of Takapuna’s central business district with the start/finish line in Hurstmere Rd. The course offers tight, technical racing, with plenty of support from restaurant and bar patrons given the evening racing times. The open men’s race is scheduled to start at 7:30pm. It will be preceded by U17 girls (5:30pm), U17 boys (5:55pm), all comers (6:20pm) and open women’s (6:50pm) races.
Parking restrictions will be in effect from 1:00pm-10:00pm, as well as some road closures from 4:30pm-10:00pm. For further details visit www.criteriumnationals.co.nz