Team Cromwell put town on map

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 01/08/2014

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Cromwell's spot in the Tour of Southland could be more than just the race's first town team, with organisers hinting the town could host a start or finish stage.

Tour of Southland Tour Manager Bruce Ross, speaking at the launch of the race's first town team in Cromwell on Wednesday night, said a town team was "absolutely unique" and hoped it was the start of things to come.

"Having a team represented by a town - this is a first and I hope it's the start of things to come. We can set a benchmark here. I think it is going to be very successful."

He promised to make sure Cromwell was "well and truly recognised".

"There is a chance that Cromwell can be involved as a stage start or finish. It is just a matter of logistics."

"To do that we would need to put another day on the tour so that could be something that is considered in other tours so that would be pretty exciting in itself. If we did keep it at six days - something would have to go."

Glen Christiansen, who has driven the concept and took the concept to sponsors, said the idea for Cromwell to enter a team in this year's Tour of Southland metamorphosed over morning coffee among a group of local business people who meet most weekday mornings for coffee at the Fusee Rouge Cafe.

Christiansen was challenged to test the waters for interest by local businesses to financially support the idea, he said.

"All of us could see how entering a Team Cromwell would give tremendous and wide-reaching publicity for the town and region, but we all knew that no one business could fund setting up, managing and supporting Team Cromwell. Within half an hour I had verbal commitments from 20 businesses in Cromwell. That was enough to set wheels in motion."

At the launch the cycling jersey emblazoned with Cromwell.co.nz was unveiled and the team's first two members announced.

Gavin Mason - a 2013 tour competitor, and Mat Marshall, have signed up to the team.

The team manager Barry Tall had an extensive cycling background and had trained novice weekend cycle racers, including Commonwealth Games gold medallist Tom Scully.

Cromwell Business Member Greg Sinnott said local businesses certainly could see the value for business, but more importantly, the town of Cromwell. The sport of cycling is on a huge high so it's timely to be supporting an event such as this.

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- The Southland Times

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