New Plymouth's Michael Torckler is on the start line for tomorrow's Round the Mountain cycle race.
It will be the 25-year-old's first competitive start since a horrific hit-and-run crash in the United States left him in hospital for several weeks.
"I'll get started and see how things go. I'll definitely be lacking in endurance and I'll ride within myself. I'll go for as long as possible and call it a day if I get to my limit," he said.
"I'm pretty confident. I'm feeling good and had a wee ride in Hawke's Bay last weekend. It was pretty low key, much like a training ride, but it was pretty satisfying."
Torckler said he had some wires removed from his hand two weeks ago.
"It feels a lot better. I just have to be patient with my return to riding. It's good to be back on the bike."
Torckler said he was still hopeful of riding with his United States-based Bissell Pro team in the Tour of Southland starting in Invercargill on October 31.
Bissell Pro team-mate Patrick Bevan, of Taupo, will be in the A grade bunch on the start line with Torckler tomorrow, while other leading chances in the Devon Hotel-sponsored event are Stratford's Greg Marfell and New Plymouth's Darry Stevens.
"We've got 57 starters on Saturday," said Geoff Mackle, one of the race organisers.
"Numbers are down slightly on last year, but overall we're very happy with the field. It's even through the grades and there should be some good racing."
The B grade has also attracted an even field with Hamilton's Scott Ardern one of the leading chances. New Plymouth's Tristan Hinz and Palmerston North's Paul Dearitz look the main dangers.
New Plymouth riders should dominate the C grade, with Nathan Smith, just home from the Paralympics in London, a strong chance along with Craig Peters and Brohn Torckler.
In the D grade, last Sunday's Stratford to Whangamomona 65km race winner Tom Crehan, of New Plymouth, stands out, along with Stratford's Mike Carter and New Plymouth's Paul Hickford.
Cycling New Plymouth club steward Shane Peters, New Plymouth's Stephen Hills and veteran Auckland rider Barnie McCarthy look likely in the E grade.
The race starts at 9.30am at New Plymouth's Spotswood College, with riders heading to Opunake.
From there, they head along Auroa Rd on the Opunake to Stratford road to Cardiff, then across Monmouth Rd to Midhurst before returning to New Plymouth. The first riders are expected to finish at the racecourse about 1.45pm.
- Taranaki Daily News
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