Relative unaware of cyclist's death

A relative of a cyclist who died in Wairarapa during a cycle race went on to finish the leg, unaware of the tragedy.

Michael Springford, 60, of Whangarei, died from a suspected heart attack at 12.40pm on Sunday, at the intersection of State Highway 53 and Fenwicks Line near Martinborough.

The Northland real estate agent was competing in a seven-day, 13-stage ride from Wellington to Auckland.

Senior Sergeant Carolyn Watson, of Wairarapa, said Mr Springford's son-in-law was also competing in the race but did not see the man's collapse.

"He was unaware as he crossed the finish line," she said.

Yesterday, Whangarei cyclist Paul Fancy said Mr Springford had a "very big" circle of friends in Northland, where he had lived all his life.

"He was a very generous man and very successful, too.

"He's been very generous to a lot of sports up here."

He was also a key sponsor of an annual cycle race that promoted bike safety, Mr Fancy said.

Mr Springford ran the Northland branch of L J Hooker, and had been working in real estate for 37 years.

The fifth annual BDO Wellington to Auckland Cycle Challenge started in Lower Hutt on Sunday and finishes in Pukekohe on Saturday.

The race is billed as catering for elite riders through to "weekend warriors".

Each day is divided into one or two stages, covering between 38 kilometres and 122km.

The race director, former Olympic cyclist Stephen Cox, could not be contacted yesterday.

The Dominion Post