It's party time for cycling stars

Warm welcome for cyclists ahead of celebration

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 08:00 22/12/2012
Simon van Velthooven and Barbara Cotton

WELCOME BACK: Feilding’s cycling heroes Jesse Sergent, left, and Simon van Velthooven sign the jerseys of Kevin and Barbara Cotton at Manchester Square in Feilding yesterday.

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Timaru Olympic cyclist Shane Archbold might be feeling a bit parched now, but at the end of the road is the party of the year.

Archbold, 23, has made an extraordinary commitment to ensure he will be at the belated 21st birthday bash tonight for Feilding Olympic bronze medallist Simon van Velthooven. He is biking the 734 kilometres from Timaru to the van Velthooven family farm.

When van Velthooven won the keirin bronze at London in August he dubbed it "the nation's medal" and then in the heat of the moment issued an open invitation to his 21st.

Van Velthooven is now back and the party is about to arrive.

It is, understandably, no longer an open event - instead a celebration of all those who helped van Velthooven, 24, get to where he is today.

Archbold is one of the lucky ones to have an invite, but earlier this month he realised his mate's shindig would clash with his strict training schedule in Timaru.

So he came up with a solution that would please everyone.

On Wednesday he biked from Timaru to Christchurch.

On Thursday he biked from Christchurch to Kaikoura in temperatures that reached 30 degrees Celsius.

All things going to plan he will arrive in Manawatu this afternoon.

"I'm regretting all this a little bit now," he told the Manawatu Standard when he reached Kaikoura. "I've never ridden State Highway 1 north of Christchurch so I didn't realise bikes couldn't go on the motorway.

"The cops gave me the stern word and I had to go the long way round - I'm stuffed now.

"But he [Simon] is a real good bugger so I'm sure there will be a cold beer waiting for me when I get there."

After the party, Archbold will catch a ride back to Timaru, so he can spend Christmas with his family. He then travels to Tasmania with van Velthooven for an event on Boxing Day.

Unlike Archbold, van Velthooven, who is recently back from the gruelling Japan keirin circuit, is not expecting to get much training in during the next few days.

With his party organised for him, he is just enjoying the Manawatu sunshine.

He was officially welcomed back to Feilding at an event in Manchester Square yesterday.

He, with fellow Feilding track cycling bronze medallist Jesse Sergent, signed photos and showed off his medal for 50 kids.

"It's great to be back, to be able to get a Buttercup Cafe coffee or a pick-and-mix from Bin Inn after training," van Velthooven said.

"The summers are amazing in Feilding and there's no parking meters, no traffic lights.

"People don't realise how good they have it here."

What does van Velthooven think of Archbold's commitment?

"He's such a team man that he's riding here from Timaru."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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