Southland is set to stage New Zealand's first UCI Tier One track cycling event, which will carry vital world qualifying points.
The event will form part of a week-long festival of international cycling, with the Oceania Championships to follow at the SIT Zerofees Velodrome in Invercargill.
BikeNZ is partnering with Cycling Southland to stage the UCI Tier One event on November 16-17, with the Oceania Championships to follow on from November 19 to 22.
Both events are part of the new regulations brought in by the sport's ruling body, the UCI, and carry points for the 2014 and 2015 world cups, which provide qualification to the world championships and, ultimately, the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
"New Zealand must stage a UCI Tier One event each year," said BikeNZ high-performance director Mark Elliott. "While this is an additional burden on our high-performance budget, on the plus side, our riders will compete against world-class competition at home while cycling fans will see international track cycling every year. It is also an excellent development opportunity for our next tier of track cyclists to compete on a higher stage."
While Australia has already hosted the 2014 Oceania Championships, ironically staged in December last year, the new regulations mean a further Oceania Championship is required this year.
"When the rules changed, then the Oceania region had to change with it. Again it presents a good opportunity for racing at home and we are indebted to Cycling Southland for putting up their hands to host this and raise considerable funds to stage it."
Cycling Southland has taken up the challenge to produce two world-class events, having hosted the Oceania Championships two years ago and the 2012 UCI Juniors Track World Championships in Invercargill last year.
"After hosting the Junior Worlds last year, these events come at a great time for the sport and its fans across New Zealand and in the deep south," Cycling Southland chief executive Nick Jeffrey said.
"We all hear about the outstanding results our riders deliver internationally, year after year, so to be able to see the best in the country lining up against international competition in our own backyard is a rare treat. And with the revised international qualification period, it means they are going to have to bring their A game, so we are going to see some outstanding racing."
BikeNZ will select its team later this month.
- The Southland Times