School cy­cling champs in town

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Rural Day - SAM KILMIS­TER

Cy­cling on a mo­tor rac­ing cir­cuit may sound out of place but hun­dreds are set to take to the cir­cuit at Man­feild for the New Zealand School Road Cy­cling Cham­pi­onships.

The event re­turns on Mon­day and Cy­cling New Zealand Schools’ chair­man Kevin Searle said Feild­ing had hosted the ‘points race’ sec­tion at the na­tional sec­ondary schools’ tour­na­ment since its in­cep­tion in 1979.

Searle said the venue of­fered a spec­ta­tor-friendly en­vi­ron­ment. Tak­ing the event off roads made it safer for riders and negated the need for traf­fic man­age­ment, he said.

A bumper turnout of 700 riders will serve as the fi­nal chal­lenge of a three day event. Though the sport is head­ing to Christchurch next year chief ex­ec­u­tive Julie Keane said it would only be a oneyear trial and the event was ex­pected to re­turn in 2019, with a fu­ture ro­ta­tion plan to be con­firmed.

‘‘The im­pe­tus is to foster more growth in the sport,’’ Keane said.

‘‘Kevin has re­minded that there are more than 200 school riders tak­ing part in weekly school competitions in the Christchurch area alone, yet South Is­land schools only con­trib­ute six per cent of this year’s field.’’

‘‘If they can lift the south­ern in­ter­est and bring those riders here, then we can as­sure them of a great com­pe­ti­tion.’’

Searle ap­pre­ci­ated the com­mu­nity who had put their heart and soul into its on­go­ing suc­cess.

Searle said a one-year shift would rein­vig­o­rate cy­cling pro­grammes.

PHOTO: CY­CLING NEW ZEALAND SCHOOLS/SUP­PLIED

Hard-fought ac­tion dur­ing the 2016 School Road Na­tional Cham­pi­onships at Man­feild.

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