Manawatu cycling in great shape with high hopes for year ahead

LUUK VAN WAGTENDONK
Last updated 14:31 19/12/2012

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OPINION: This has been a year to remember for cycling in Manawatu. From hosting the New Zealand Men's Cycle Classic to two Manawatu riders winning Olympic bronze medals, and all the other amazing achievements, it has been a remarkable 12 months.

There were too many superb results throughout the year for me to list them all, but this can only be seen as a sign of how fantastic the year has really been.

School cycling in Manawatu continues to grow and large numbers of our young riders winning medals and titles at the North Island and national school championships proves how bright the future is.

On the club front, it all seems very similar because many of the school cyclists also compete for Bike Manawatu, with just as much success.

Now nine of the club's best juniors will be attending BikeNZ training camps and races as part of the junior development programme.

Two of New Zealand's best riders, Simon van Velthooven and Jesse Sergent, were also rewarded for their hard work as they returned from the London Olympic Games with bronze medals in the keirin and teams pursuit, respectively.

Both of these events are raced on the track where Bike Manawatu is becoming more prominent at a national level, with several medals won at the national track championships in Invercargill.

Bike Manawatu is becoming one of the best clubs in the country, staging top quality events including the Novice Tour and Feilding Festival of Cycling. Both were successful and for that, we must thank all those who helped run them. So looking back, it has been a wonderful year and if 2013 is even remotely similar, it will be a year to look forward to.

■ Simon van Velthooven headed to Japan in September for another stint of Japanese keirin racing, one of only four sports in the country in which gambling is legal.

Simon has two to three races each month, where each race is made up of three keirins over three days.

It is a busy schedule with lots of racing in a short space of time, leaving little opportunity to see what Japan has to offer. Although travelling to velodromes around the country, Simon does get to experience the different cultures.

The velodromes are similar to Johnston Park in Feilding, only having slightly more banking and being slightly longer.

Keirin racers are known to ride incredibly large gears and Simon is no exception, using a massive 110-inch gear.

Any cyclist will tell you that trying to get a gear like that going is no easy feat.

Simon's very last race resulted in a pile-up right at the finish.

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Although that is an unfortunate end, it is all part of the spectacle that is Japanese keirin racing.

Simon returns home today for a few weeks before heading to Tasmania where he will race over the New Year before beginning his buildup for the World Cup in Mexico.

But first, of course, he will attend the Rhino's Beer Garden Party, which he is hosting.

■ The second-to-last Tuesday track evening for 2012 was a special night for several riders.

There were three club records set in the flying 400m time trial. Campbell Stewart set a time of 24.64 seconds in the under-17 boys, surpassing the previous record by 0.7 seconds.

Jordan Castle rode a time of 25.85 seconds, lowering the under-19 record by 0.4 seconds. Brent Zimmerman set an impressive time of 27.82 seconds to beat the previous mark by a whopping 1.6 seconds.

Over the past few weeks, Ian Grey has been trying to spot two of the most promising young riders on the track to reward them with a brand new bike.

This was not an easy decision, but most will agree he made the right one in selecting Fergus Allan and Megan Gardiner.

A big thanks to Adam Curry from Central Bicycle Studio for providing one of the two bikes and to Ian for acknowledging the talent on offer.

- Manawatu Standard

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