A triathlete has told how he was "stiff-armed" off his bike by an irate motorist in a road-rage attack near Taupo.
Alasdair Slade, who was training for this weekend's Taupo Ironman, admits he "gave the finger" to the driver, who was overtaking towards him, leaving little room to spare.
The motorist did a U-turn and came back to wait for him on the side of the road.
"It just went pear-shaped after that," Mr Slade, 49, a Rangipo Prison guard said. "I tried to ride around him but I couldn't avoid him and he stiff-armed me off the bike."
Mr Slade had been training on Broadlands Rd, near Taupo, on Monday afternoon and was becoming increasingly frustrated by oncoming drivers passing other vehicles coming towards him.
"There had been several drivers doing it. I was thinking a lot of cyclists have been knocked off their bikes in the past year.
"I guess I just got so frustrated thinking about it that, when this guy came towards me passing another car, I thought ‘Hey buddy, pull back,' and flipped the bird at him."
Two men working further up the road saw the incident and ran to help Mr Slade, though his attacker did not. "The driver, just a young whippersnapper, took off. He didn't wait around."
Mr Slade was in a stable condition in Rotorua Hospital yesterday. "I have been better, I've taken a bit of skin off, and I was in a great deal of pain," he said from his hospital bed.
"Drivers just don't see cyclists. They see us puttering along and think we can get out of the way.
"But we need a bit of road ourselves when you are doing 50kmh or more.
"We just need to be treated with respect and as a fellow road sharer."
He was training for his ninth Taupo Ironman, but now accepts that, despite six months of preparation, he will not be competing.
He expects to remain in hospital for up to two weeks.
Taupo-based event manager Warwick Hall, a former Ironman entrant, said cyclists and motorists need to learn to share the road.
A 21-year-old Reporoa man is to appear in Taupo District Court today, charged with assault.
- The Dominion Post