Mountainbike club in shock split

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 13:00 24/11/2012

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The Nelson Mountain Bike Club has pulled out of the New Zealand cup series, ending a near 20-year association.

Citing a change in funding that he believed would disadvantage the club, president Chris Mildon said mountainbiking in New Zealand was too small to handle a split, but the club had to make a stand.

Mr Mildon said under the new arrangement with BikeNZ running the series, the club would be left with a $3000 shortfall in costs, mainly because of the transport and fuel costs associated with hosting the downhill event in January.

"It's with huge disappointment and frustration that Nelson has withdrawn its offer to host the New Zealand Mountain Bike Cup event here next January," said Mr Mildon, who was Mountain Bike New Zealand president between 2006 and 2009, and resigned from the executive in December 2011.

"Personally, I've worked hard for many years to also keep the integrity of this series in place, and never thought I would be involved in a situation like this.

"We hope ultimately that this will improve the situation."

Executives from both Mountain Bike New Zealand, the owner of the event, and BikeNZ, the event co-ordinator, said the funding issues could have been worked out.

It was suggested an additional week was all that was needed to smooth the way, but that Nelson's deadline didn't accommodate "due diligence".

"Nelson have been a huge part of the series for a long time and it is a great mountainbiking region, but obviously the club had their reasons," said BikeNZ chief executive Kieran Turner.

"Nelson claimed that the host fee was not enough and they could not raise money elsewhere to meet their share of costs as outlined in the event guidelines.

"We were in the process of trying to understand why their costs were higher and get some more information when they decided to withdraw."

BikeNZ said there was no replacement event at this stage, and it was undecided whether there would be one.

Mr Mildon said that with the series dates already announced, it left the Nelson club with a "duty of obligation" to the riders to run an event.

The Nelson Top Gun event will run on the days that were scheduled for the withdrawn cup series weekend from January 18-20. It will include both the cross-country and downhill, while adding an additional super D race.

"The Top Gun format allows downhill and cross-country aces to shine in their specialist disciplines, then brings them together into the combined discipline format of a super D race to decide who will take away the Top Gun crown," said Mr Mildon.

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With a $1000 prize purse, the Nelson club was expecting to break even or run the event with a slight surplus.

- The Nelson Mail

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