Past Tour of Southland winner Doug Bath salutes officials for making event so special
Doug Bath has paid tribute to those behind the scenes as one of Southland's great sporting events has the candles blown out on it's 60th birthday cake .
The 1994 Tour of Southland winner said the cycle race's reputation as a great event stretches well beyond New Zealand and said it was a credit to those people in the last 60 years who have worked hard to put on the Tour.
"To have a 60 year old history in New Zealand sport is pretty special. In these days with traffic management safety plans, it is just getting incredibly hard to run these events.
"We are very lucky with the local buy-in – the police, the community, the tour committee, [tour director] Bruce Ross," Bath said.
"I've been lucky enough to be behind the scenes with it in the last few years and you don't really understand just as a sports fan, or even as a competitor, the level of work that goes on just to get it going."
"The logistics of is it is an organisational juggernaut. There are so many facets to it.
"There is a lot of volunteer input as well which is the Southland way."
Bath said the challenge for the Tour of Southland would come when some of the older officials, who had been instrumental in the success of the race, stepped down.
He said the exciting thing was the race still held plenty of appeal for cyclists.
"The profile is huge, and the reputation is a factor in getting these international riders here, because there is quite a few international riders here this year.
"They come here because they have heard it is just blimmin' hard, and it is."
A 60th anniversary function was held on Saturday night to commemorate the occasion before the 2016 race officially got underway with the team time trial around Queens Park on Sunday afternoon.