Milford race shakedown for McLeay

Former Olympic cyclist Glenn McLeay is a late inclusion for today's Milford Cycle Classic.

The Invercargill jeweller has signed up for the race as part of his preparations for Ironman New Zealand in Taupo in five weeks' time.

He will arrive in Te Anau after riding a blistering cycle leg at Challenge Wanaka last weekend, going around the 180km course in 4hr 51min before pulling out ahead of the run.

McLeay has been nursing a slight calf strain which has limited his running training, but his swimming and cycling have been going well and he will be watched closely by the rest of the men's field, with $1000 prizemoney for the first rider on to the Te Anau lakefront.

McLeay, who will step up to the 45-49 age group at Taupo, was a little reticent about his chances today.

"More than anything, it's the fact that I haven't [road]-raced for 16 years. You can be fit but racing with young guys going over a hill is different."

McLeay took part in two club races last year as part of his triathlon training and while acting as a liaison for the South African team which was based here during the junior world track championships.

Some of the younger riders on the start line may not be aware that they are riding alongside a man who won gold in the team pursuit at the 1990 Commonwealth Games and silver in the 10-mile race at the 1994 Commonwealth Games, not to mention appearances at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, with a fourth in the points race at Barcelona.

McLeay hopes to go as fast as he can in Taupo, but has no ambitions to qualify for the world championships in Hawaii after competing there in 2010.

The danger of rock falls around the Homer Tunnel has forced race organisers to start today's Classic at the eastern end of the tunnel, shortening the course from 120km to 100km and taking out the toughest climb.

The race, which starts at the Homer Hut car park at 5.15pm, will also feature a different finish this year, with the line placed on the Te Anau lakefront.

The Southland Times