Sandoval lauds high quality cycle classic in Manawatu
Jorge Sandoval's New Zealand Cycle Classic in Manawatu proved to be the best of the three editions staged in Manawatu.
He felt it was the best field in the tour's 27-year history and for a change everything ran smoothly.
A lover of hill stages, he put two big ones in yesterday's final stage up Pahiatua Track and Saddle Rd and it fully tested the riders.
■ Ashhurst dressage rider Penny Castle has been entrusted with developing New Zealand's next medal winners and world-class coaches.
Castle has been appointed to the new role of performance director at NZ Eventing to retain the quality of New Zealand riders and focus on the talent development squad. After more than 25 years of coaching, she was recently accepted in the High Performance Sport NZ's accelerated coaching programme.
■ Manawatu will again have good numbers at the gruelling Coast to Coast multisport event on February 14-15.
We counted eight from Manawatu in the field of about 800 including a builder, an environmental manager and even Levin's Davey Hughes of Swazi fame.
■ Bevan Small's long-awaited return to first-class cricket was a success in Central Districts' Plunket Shield game against Wellington this week.
After rib surgery in April, the Manawatu fast bowler had made himself unavailable for the longer format, but came back and grabbed six wickets for the match.
■ Manawatu's contingent in the Hurricanes' squad for their pre-season game against the Blues in Masterton on Saturday took their chances.
Wider squad members Callum Gibbins, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Chris Eves, as well as Newton Tudreu who was called up, all got to have a crack at Benji Marshall and the Blues. Gibbins scored a try in the 38-35 win, while the speedy Tudreu was reportedly full of energy.
■ Robbie Laird, an absolute veteran of Manawatu club cricket, dropped himself to premier two for Old Boys when he had a glut of talented players on Saturday.
He then scored 108 not out of his team's 272 against his old club, Feilding, at Kowhai Park, batting all 50 overs.
However, Feilding chased down the target of 273, with a ball to spare. In his 27 seasons in premier one, Laird had two other centuries, the last against Palmerston North Boys' High School three years ago.
■ Palmerston North lost a fervent sporting supporter with the death of Kevin Monk on Friday, aged 56.
He was the YoungHeart Manawatu general manager from July 2009 to December 2010 before illness forced him to step down. He had Recruitment Plus for 19 years until its demise in 2009 and had set up The People Company in April.
A Rotarian, he also helped produce theatre productions, served on the Chamber of Commerce, represented touch on the old Showgrounds board from 1997, ran the Showgrounds touch module for 15 years and was a Palmerston North City Council-appointee to the Arena Manawatu board from 2000 until 2003.