Gordon McCauley back on Taranaki starting line

Defending champion Gordon McCauley knows more about pain than most.

The veteran cyclist has come back from more injuries than just about any top New Zealand cyclist and this long weekend will be no exception.

The 42-year-old was house-bound for several months after smashing both his legs in a race accident earlier this year.

Determined to get back on the bike, despite having nothing to prove to anyone after competing around the world for 27 years, the Gulf Harbour resident will be back at the start line for the Powerco Tour of Taranaki as he strives to be fit enough to compete in the Tour of Southland.

He won't be defending his title, however, after entering the B-grade section of the race, which has attracted more than 150 riders from throughout the country.

Race spokesman Glenn Demchy said the tour would be held over three days, include five grades and an equal number of stages.

The first stage starts this morning from Kaponga, with riders taking a 85km route before they have a rest and prepare for a 6km individual time trial to end the day.

The tour will be based at Stratford High School tomorrow, with two more stages scheduled, before the racing starts and ends in Inglewood on Queen's Birthday Monday, with the first finishers expected about noon on Standish St.

The second day will undoubtedly be the most gruelling, as the riders head on up to the high country of eastern Taranaki.

Adding to the race will be the inclusion of the New Zealand men's and women's under-19 development squads.

The A-grade field has attracted what appears to be an even bunch, with Dempsey nominating young Hawke's Bay rider Regan Gough as one to watch closely for the future.

Several Taranaki riders will compete in the A-grade, including Mel Titter, Mikey McCallum, Jason Thomason, Blake Fergus and Gregory Marfell.

Of the Taranaki riders in the B-grade, Anthony Visser may be the strongest local hope, although last year's winner, Mark Magee, will be hard to bowl.

Taranaki Daily News