Cycling community mourns loss of Japanese rider killed near Twizel
The international cycling community is mourning the loss of Japanese rider Mitsuaki Inagaki who was killed after being hit by a truck near Twizel.
Inagaki and a 62-year-old English cyclist were hit by a truck just south of the Mount Cook turn off on State Highway 8 at 6.20am on Wednesday.
Inagaki was one of 29 riders participating in a 1200-kilometre Tiki Tour ride around the mid and lower South Island organised by Kiwi Randonneurs, New Zealand's long distance cycling association.
Friends of Inagaki paid tribute to their fellow cyclist and the president of Audax Japan, a non-competitive long distance cycling organisation with branches around the world.
Brian Burke, who rode 1200km in Florida with Inagaki in October 2016, said he hoped Inagaki would be remembered by his "pleasant personality and travels throughout the globe".
"We are a small, tight community. We take all losses with difficulty. We do organised rides around the world and give, and receive, help to others who share our passion as cyclists."
He said it was "another reminder that we always must be cognisant of our safety while riding".
The Kiwi Randonneurs website states participants in the gruelling four-day tour had to qualify for the ride by proving they could sustain back-to-back 350km days.
The planned route saw cyclists depart Queenstown on March 12 and cycle via Fox Glacier and Flock Hill before making their way to Lake Ruataniwha and back on to Queenstown again.
According to the route, Inagaki and the English cyclist would have completed about 1000km of the trip before the crash.
Fellow Randonneur cyclist Diane Goodwin also expressed her condolences on social media.
"Sad sad news for cycling world . . . Mitsuaki Inagaki, simply as "Micky," the president of Audax Japan, was the cyclist killed . . . a fellow Randonneur."
Friend Alexander Neumann also voiced his grief on social media.
"A very good friend died. We were cycling together all around the world. Micky Ina we will miss you. R.I.P."
Police said they were still trying to establish the cause of the crash.
Sergeant Mike van der Heyden, of Temuka, said the tour group had been passing through the Mackenzie District on Wednesday morning headed for Twizel when the two cyclists were hit by the truck.
A 62-year-old Englishman was airlifted to Christchurch Hospital by Westpac Rescue Helicopter, and was in a moderate to serious condition, van der Heyden said.
Senior Constable Les Andrew, of Timaru, said the weather on Wednesday morning had been foggy in Twizel.
Conditions at the scene had been clear, although it would have been dark when the crash happened.
The truck involved in the collision was operated by Metro Performance Glass.
Chief executive Nigel Rigby said the truck had been transporting glass from Christchurch to Central Otago.
- Sunday Star Times