Monday, July 29, 2013

An exciting chapter ahead

This week’s Cycling Southland annual general meeting presents a formal opportunity to look back at the last 12 months and look forward to the club’s next exciting chapter.

There’s little debate the past year has been the biggest in our club’s history, headlined by hosting the 2012 UCI Juniors Track World Championships. It took a massive investment from both our volunteer base and from our financial reserves but like any good investment, it will pay dividends for years to come.

The best part about last year’s success is that it is shared by all those who have contributed over Cycling Southland’s rich history to put a little cycling club in the position to contribute as the single largest funder to the event. The countless and tireless years of service from names like Ineson, Sycamore, Tall, Ross, Broad, Canny and co, laid the foundation for the current crop (which includes all of the afore-mentioned names) to put Cycling Southland, the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome and Invercargill on the world track cycling map.

Preparations are being finalised for an elite track cycling event in November to be staged in the city to continue to build on this hard-earned reputation. So, don’t for a minute think we are suffering a Junior Worlds hangover and slowing down any!

Whilst we are on the topic of future events, entries opened for both our junior and senior Tours of Southland over the last fortnight. The 30th Yunca Junior Tour is first up from October 4 to 6, with the senior edition to be held November 3 to 9.

But before we hit the highways on our road tours later in the year, we have the WHK Corporate Pursuit over the next two weekends. Last week’s finals of the Lone Star Speights Corporate Roller Racing provided a sneak preview on who will start as the bookies favourite.

Seven teams were back to take on the team effort after qualifying over the past four weeks. The finals saw four teams move through to the finale’s ride-off, after setting times up to ten seconds quicker than they had achieved in the previous weeks’ heats.

In the end, the inaugural champion was Fonterra, taking the title by a slim 0.504 seconds from AWS Legal with NZ Fire Service a close third. All three teams recorded record-breaking individual efforts with times in the 22 second range over the 500 metre distance.

Our 30 corporate teams now shift their focus to the WHK Time Trial on Sunday (4th August) before the knock out finals competition is held on Sunday 11th.

The first team to measure themselves against the clock this Sunday will be the Colac Bay Tavern at 12:25pm. Three hours later, we will know who will be contesting the division 1 and 2 honours on Finals day. 

Based on what we’ve seen at the Lone Star on the rollers over the last month, it should be an outstanding contest. Entry is by gold coin with children free over both velodrome race days.

Nick Jeffrey is Cycling Southland's Chief Executive

Monday, July 15, 2013

Luck has nothing to do with it

This week we were paid a visit by a couple of good blokes from up north somewhere who wanted to get a handle on how one of these velodrome things worked. They were looking at the feasibility of building a similar community facility for their home patch.

Our two visitors timing couldn't have been better as they watched a class from James Hargest being put through their paces in an NCEA-accredited track cycling course on the track, while another group bounced around in the courts in the middle of the track and both lounges upstairs hosted corporate meetings and workshops.

I used to think Invercargill was lucky to have a facility of this quality, but now I realise that luck has nothing to do with it. Those visionary sport and community leaders and funders didn't roll the dice and just hope for the best a decade ago. They did their homework, didn't cut corners and built a facility that delivers at all levels - from international high performers to local students trying track for the first time. It provided a great example to our northern visitors and it is again emphasised by some of the cycling activities over this past week.

Eddie Dawkins continued to dominate to sprinting world. After a string of solid performances in Europe he backed up from an arduous travel schedule to win both the keirin and sprint on consecutive nights at the International Track Series in Adelaide this week. If their medal-winning deeds at the last two world championships announced NZ's arrival as an international cycling sprint powerhouse, the effort this off-season, lead by Eddie (along with Cycling Southland's Matt Archibald) has put an exclamation point on it.

Earlier this week Jeremy Presbury and Josh Haggerty flew out to Europe where they will link with Alexandra's Liam Aitcheson and the rest of the nine-strong BikeNZ squad to complete preparations ahead on next month's UCI Junior World Track Championships in Glasgow. Jeremy will line up as the number one ranked junior keirin rider in the world - in case you glossed over that last sentence, go back and re-read it now! All three travel as realistic medal prospects and they've had the luxury of building up on a world class facility here in Invercargill.

Southlanders also performed with distinction at this weekend's South Island Secondary Schools Road Cycling Champs at Ruapuna. Hamish Keast took double gold in the U14 boys while Tom Sexton took out the U16 road race title in bitterly cold conditions yesterday, backing up from his individual bronze and team gold during Saturday's time trials. Sam Miller, Hamish Beadle, Brayden Stephens, Hayden and Corbin Strong, Nick Kergozou and Josh van den Arend also stepped on to the podium over the weekend.

It's another long list of outstanding results from a random week in the year and one way or another, they can be linked to the foresight of those a decade ago who decided Invercargill could build an indoor velodrome, when no-one else had. Good idea that!

Nick Jeffrey is Chief Executive of Cycling Southland

Monday, July 8, 2013

End of the off-season

The handful of weeks that can loosely be described as the off-season at Cycling Southland are over with the restart of our weekend club road racing series on Saturday.

Not that it's been a restful time for the club. Plans are in place for the 2013 WHK Corporate Pursuit with our 29 teams circling the velodrome as they learn the ropes and refine their combinations ahead of next month's race days. Final details are being confirmed for Cycling Southland's hosting of two international track cycling events in November (watch this space) and there's the small matter of continuing preparations for our junior and senior cycling tours of Southland.

The Junior Tour will be held from October 4 to 6 and will again be headlined by one of Southland's longest running sponsorships by Yunca Heating. The Yunca Tour has become a rite of passage for New Zealand's best road talent locally and nationally for the best part of 30 years. Even in the short three-year history I've seen first-hand, it is obvious the role this event and Yunca's outstanding on-going support plays in developing the country's most promising riders into talents who have the opportunity to take those skills on a world stage.

The other feature of the last week was the announcement of Cycling Southland's partnership with Road Safety Southland.

The Share the Road message has been a fixture in the Tour of Southland peloton over recent years but this year the message will not be confined to one team, but the entire event with Road Safety Southland becoming a major feature sponsor for this year’s Tour.

Road Safety Southland Road User Safety Advisor Jane Ballantyne, her off-sider Maureen Deuchrass, Sport Southland and our outstanding local Police Education Officers have done a great job delivering this vitally important message over recent years and together we're all committed to continuing to share the same road, same rules, same rights message as widely as possible.

A few words from Jane herself. “We’ve been delighted with the profile the team has provided us over the last few years, but this new partnership gives us the chance to re-energise the Share the Road message in New Zealand’s most recognised cycling event. With more bikes on the roads, this message becomes increasingly important and to do it with Cycling Southland through the Tour and through the year makes perfect sense.”

Our Tour of Southland partnership is only the first step in an on-going relationship with Road Safety Southland. Share the Road is a shared responsibility. Too often the debate becomes a cyclist verses motorist one or vice versa when cyclists, motorists and pedestrians all have a job to do to keep themselves and each other safe. This isn’t going to be told over a couple of weeks every November, it’s a year-round message and one we both plan to have front and centre throughout the entire year.
There's no better place to start than as we build-up and then deliver New Zealand's feature road cycling event.

Nick Jeffrey is Chief Executive of Cycling Southland

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tour time leaves no time for sleep

With the 2013 Tour de France beginning in Corsica on Saturday night (NZ time), so too began a month of sleep deprivation for cycling fans.

The 100th Tour began in suitably dramatic fashion and fortunately the British and Irish Lions and Wallabies played ball with a horrendously stop-start rugby match on the other channel (at least for the first 70 minutes) which allowed for plenty of time watching the Tour peloton settle in for its 3,600 kilometre journey over the next three weeks.

I managed to get to about 1:30am before bed called and thanks to the marvels of modern technology (more commonly called MySky) I dragged myself up the hall, safe in the knowledge that a replay of the predicted opening stage sprint would be only a few button pushes away in the morning.

Anyone who organises events will tell you they lie awake at night, not worrying about the things they have planned for, it's those eventualities you can't plan for that keep you from sleep. Things like a team bus getting wedged under the finish line, for example.

So as the leaders descended on the final kilometres of stage one, organisers were deflating tyres on the Orica-GreenEdge team bus so it could back up and get out of the way before 198 bike riders came down the finish straight at 75 clicks.

Fortunately, disaster was avoided - well mostly. Nervousness in the peloton during the opening days of the Tour is an annual fixture and these jitters, combined with a decision to move the finish line back to the three kilometre mark to avoid the Aussie bus, which was then reversed when said bus was unwedged, combined to create the perfect recipe for incident. Sure enough, within the final kilometres, wheels touched and down came a large number of riders.

New Zealand's Greg Henderson and Jack Bauer negotiated the carnage, although Hendy, a key lead-out man for Lotto Belisol team mate Andre Greipel was not short of a word after the stage, telling ITV, "It was just ridiculous. We hear the finish line is at 3km so we just go, full. Then we hear at 3km that it's back at the original. We'd already used two men on the lead-out. It's not ideal."

That's the beautiful thing about the Tour. Just when you think you've seen it all over 100 years of racing, it reminds you that you can't miss a moment.

It also reminds us that our own iconic road race, the Tour of Southland will no doubt again provide drama and surprise. 120 of New Zealand's best bike riders over 900 kilometres never goes exactly to script and, just like the slightly more famous French version, it will throw up another week of spectacular action in November.

The first of our exciting announcements leading in to the 2013 Tour of Southland comes in these very pages later this week. That upcoming news and the start of le Tour over the weekend ratcheted up the excitement levels another notch.

Nick Jeffrey is Cycling Southland's Chief Executive

Monday, June 24, 2013

Let's enjoy our back yard facilities

Of all the sporting victories recorded over the weekend, Saturday's announcement regarding the securing of naming rights for the rebuilt Stadium Southland and the Velodrome was a biggest win for the sporting sector.

It seems fitting to me that two organisations like the Invercargill Licensing Trust and  Southern Institute of Technology that are inextricably linked with the development of Invercargill as a city over recent years are the two who have stepped up to ensure the Southland community will continue to enjoy world-class facilities at our collective back doors.

In classic fashion, we don't know what we've got until we lose it even though the Velodrome has provided a more than suitable temporary venue for the Steel and Sharks, evidenced by two sell-out crowds in three days this weekend.

Once the doors are opened and the thousands of weekly users are shuffling back through doors as they used to before that fateful September 2010 day, my hope is that we don't let ourselves forget how fortunate we are to work and play in a facility like Stadium Southland.

Nor should we forget the outstanding contributions from the many organisations who fronted up to make it happen. I have little doubt that the Southland sporting community would join me when, on behalf of Cycling Southland, I offer sincere thanks for yet another spectacularly generous investment in the fabric of Southland community.


Another week of outstanding results by Cycling Southland members scattered around the globe. Steph McKenzie continues to dominate the competition in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania winning the UCI Festival women's keirin to back up her Keirin Cup win the previous week. The keirin may not be her preferred discipline but Stephie is showing outstanding form and she has one more chance to rake in UCI points before returning to New Zealand to continue her build up to the Oceania Championships here in Invercargill in November.

Meanwhile the Men's sprinters are also turning heads across the Atlantic in Europe. The southern contingent of Eddie Dawkins, Matt Archibald and Tom Beadle are certainly making a mark with their off-season form. Dawkins recorded a blistering 9.9 second 200 metres on a concrete track in Cottbus, Germany on Saturday night before eventually finishing 6th in the Men's sprint with Archibald also performing with distinction, finishing 8th in the world class 53-man competition.

Out on the road, Tom Scully has had a memorable month with his latest victory coming in the London Nocturne criterium last week where he led home a high quality field to claim his second Tour Series victory in a matter of days.


The first official function in the 2013 WHK Corporate Pursuit was held this week with the Team Briefing night setting our 29 teams up for the build up to August's finals days. First blood (probably literally) goes to AWS Legal and Waihopai Health Services who won the honour to have a team member's legs waxed by Surrender Hair Design at the Grading Time Trial. Let the inter-team negotiations begin!
Nick Jeffrey is the Chief Executive of Cycling Southland

Monday, June 17, 2013

So many moments to witness

One of the blessings of working at Cycling Southland over the last three years is the fact that I get to witness outstanding performances first hand across over the myriad of events we deliver in the deep south.

I watched world records fall at Junior World Track Champs on Stadium Southland Velodrome. I was there last Easter when Eddie Dawkins stood on a world championship podium in Melbourne and broke through the 10 second barrier in the Men's Sprint. I've seen Southlanders lift the coveted National Points Shield after four Track Cycling Nationals. I was on the finish line as Josh Haggerty, Matt Zenovich, Erin Criglington and Sophie Williamson  won road race national titles this year and I was in the same spot over three outstanding Tour of Southland finishes, including watching a youthful PowerNet team featuring Southlanders Tom Scully and Cam Karwowski, expertly defend Josh Atkins' tour lead in 2011. See why I feel privileged?

There are, of course, literally dozens of other worthy performances I could add to this short-list but even given all that,  I'm not stretching the truth at all when I say one of my favourite annual events is ready to roll - the WHK Corporate Pursuit.

No event captures all that Cycling Southland tries to be as an organisation like this one. It introduces more people to track cycling than any other during the year, passing on the cycling bug to a new intake every 12 months.

It provides a great social atmosphere, with plenty of inter-team banter throughout the six week build up and on race days and its success is built on our team of volunteer coaches and officials guiding our teams in to well-oiled pursuit combinations, exceeding their own expectations by going faster than they could have imagined. It should also be noted that it's a fairly decent talent identification programme with Cherie Champion (Southland District Council), Brett Roulston (Calder Stewart) and Brendon Akeroyd (Stonewood Homes) among others, all lining up at the Age Group Track Championships in March after starring in last year's pursuit.

This year, 29 teams will be put through their paces in early August along with our all new Corporate Roller Racing Challenge, where the teams will compete for great prizes each week during the competition build-up  thanks to Lone Star and Speights and we're delighted to have great cycling supporters like H&J's Outdoor World on-board, along with our outstanding new event sponsor WHK.
Try picking a winner from this list; Amalgamated Builders, AWS Legal, BNZ, EIS Group, Environment Southland, Fonterra, Harrex Group, HW Richardson, IFS Growth Ltd, Invercargill Licensing Trust, McIntyre Dick & Partners, Mitre 10 Mega, NZ Fire Service (two teams), NZ Police, Opus International, PowerNet, Preston Russell Law, Ricoh, SBS Bank, Southern District Health Board, SouthPort, Speights Ale House, The Radio Network, Westpac, WHK, Waihopai Health Services, Whyte's Gravel Supplies and YMCA.

Even if the winners aren't a sure bet, having a lot of fun sure is. So let's get into it!
Nick Jeffrey is Chief Executive at Cycling Southland

Monday, June 10, 2013

Giving kudos where its due

Thanks to Queen's Birthday we missed last week. I know, that's the reason you've been feeling something was missing for the last seven days, right? So, somewhat belatedly, I want to reflect on the outstanding night that was the ILT Southland Sports Awards, ten days ago.

As New Zealanders, we do a fairly mediocre job of recognising our achievers and as Southlanders we are probably even closer to the conservative end of the scale. Nights like we enjoyed at the Ascot Park Hotel Friday week ago, are about as close as we get to publicly recognising outstanding accomplishment.

If you're anything like me, you start reading the morning paper from the back page, not the front - because that's likely to mean you start the day in a more positive fashion. And don't even think about watching the news at night with your eight and 10-year-olds because it is 90 percent mayhem, death and destruction - the only thing that changes each night is the order they come in!

Then along comes the ILT Southland Sports Awards and our faith in humanity can be restored (at least until we watch the news the next night). Every name that flashed up on the screen as finalists and plenty more that missed making the cut, in another hugely competitive year, deserve to be shouted from the rooftops. I'm lucky enough to work in the sporting sector so I see first-hand week after week what great things are achieved across the age groups locally, nationally and internationally.

As the host of the evening my job was to remain apolitical, although I did have to draw attention to cycling having the most nominations and the most number of winners on the night (in an apolitical way of course).

Erin Criglington's stellar year was rightfully recognised with the Radio Network Masters Achievement award. She is more-or-less unbeatable in her age group and every time she powers out of the starting gate for a time trial or individual pursuit, she lowers her own national record. It's just the fillet for Erin, with her next performance focus, a little competition called the World Masters Championships in Manchester in October.

Another with World Champs on his mind is the Ricoh Southland Coach of the Year Ross Machejefski. Rossco has built an outstanding record over the last two years at the Junior World Championships, including last year's 10 medal haul in Invercargill. Glasgow awaits in August for the 2013 edition and Southlanders Josh Haggerty, Jeremy Presbury and Alexandra's Liam Aitcheson will be with him, looking to turn the silver and bronze from the last two campaigns into gold.

The cycling haul was completed by triple Paralympic medalists Phillipa Gray and Laura Fairweather who took out the Southland Vehicle Sales Team of the Year after returning from London with a full set of medals.

They are just three great stories from a night that included dozens more. We just need to do a better job of telling them.

Nick Jeffrey is the Cycling Southland Chief Executive

Friday, May 24, 2013

Stars saluted at awards evening

Right on the heels of a national award recognising the huge contribution made by Cycling Southland’s volunteers and officials, the local club tonight took the opportunity to salute its own team at the annual awards evening, held at Ascot Park Hotel.

With the addition of several new awards this year, the evening recognised the invaluable input from members of all ages and abilities, who help to keep the sport’s wheels turning year after year, which proved highly appropriate only days after Cycling Southland was named Club of the Year at the BikeNZ Road and Track Volunteer Awards in Auckland.

Cycling CEO Nick Jeffrey said, while no one did all the work for awards, it was always nice to see all hard work recognised.

“Locally, the UCI Juniors Track World Championships was the beacon of a massive year for Cycling in the south but, for me personally, the continued growth of the sport at grass-roots level was the most pleasing thing.

“Hosting an event the scale of Junior Worlds gets you the headlines and gets you the awards, but it’s the volunteers who turn up week after week to assist with club racing or coaching on the velodrome or stand on a wind-swept corner with high-vis vest and flag in hand who put us in the position to put our hands up with events like this.”

For its contribution awards, the Peter Grandiek Cup for contribution to masters cycling was presented to a tireless coach who is thought to breathe, eat and sleep cycling, Waine Harding, for his continued efforts in all areas of the club, including senior road racing, masters coaching and adult track session coaching.

Julian Ineson aptly took out the Tony Ineson Cup for contribution to senor cycling – named in his father’s honour – for his unwavering commitment to all things cycling, including event commentating, U19 coaching for track nationals and associated squads, as well as being the driving force behind the results, records and memorabilia displayed in the Velodrome and lounges.
The Laurie Tall Cup for contribution to junior Cycling was another strongly contested category with endless hours of weekly coaching, advice and assistance to juniors giving Dave Beadle the award. As part of the driving force behind this year’s hugely successful U17 squad, Beadle also volunteers hours of secondary school girls sessions each week – with the attendance numbers continuing to grow from strength to strength.

Special Contribution Awards were also presented to Marie Muhl (Masters Cycling), Robin Criglington (Senior Cycling) and Alan Strong (Junior Cycling) for their generous efforts.
Luke MacphersonThe Senior Newcomers Award went to a deserving Luke Macpherson whose recent conversion to cycling has taken huge leaps and bounds to become one of the strongest riders in A Grade on a local scene, while also making a mark nationally. Macpherson placed second in the Tour de Lakes, had a top five finish in the Elites at the Club Road Nationals and features regularly in the Benchmark Series.

The inaugural Junior Newcomers Award was presented to Samuel Miller who had an excellent start to the Track in his first Track Nationals before securing a stand-out fourth place at the Club Road Nationals and taking out the Junior B Grade in the SouthPort Criterium Series.

Two new Off the Bike Awards were awarded to junior Caleb Hope for always helping out at junior sessions and race nights, while the Peter Kissell Memorial senior trophy went to Mike Cooper for his massive behind the scenes effort with timing systems and other track-related equipment since the Track opened more than seven years ago.

Tom SextonWith a who’s who of top juniors and exemplary results to admire in the south, the Junior Rider of the Year went to Tom Sexton for an exceptional year on both the track and road, including an array of medals from the Track Nationals, bronze at the Club Road Nationals and first place in the SouthPort Crit Junior A Grade.

The Senior Rider of the Year title was shared between equally deserving master Erin Criglington, whose flurry of gold medals and national records on both track and road, and U19 Junior Worlds rider Jeremy Presbury, whose highlight was a private collection of golds at the Youth Olympics, meant it was impossible to separate the two.

The Elite Rider of the Year as another hugely contested title with Paralympian triple medallists, top road performers, Olympians and World Champs medallists all in the mix. But overall performances locally and at the recent World Champs meant a team sprint silver medal locked in the big man of the track Eddie Dawkins for the honour.

The final People's Choice Awards of the night were the "Muppet of the Year" awarded to U17 rider Matt Nunn for a wrong turn and miscommunication from a road marshall that saw him ride 150km to Gore instead of the Southland Road Champs circuit, while the Performance of the Year when to U19 high achiever Josh Haggerty.

The evening was topped off with guest speakers Academy Southland manager Jason McKenzie and cycling guru Steve Canny.

Jeffrey said with many more exciting international and national events pending on the calendar for both road and track events, including the WHK Corporate Pursuit in August, Yunca Junior Tour in October, a UCI Level 1 Festival of Speed, Oceania Track Championships and Tour of Southland in November and Southland Track Champs in December there were many more exciting achievements to be celebrated over the coming months. Once again it would be the flurry of willing volunteers and officials who would ensure these events ran smoothly so the riders could focus on their craft.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cycling Southland - Club of the Year

Cycling Southland was named Club of the Year at the BikeNZ Road and Track Volunteer Awards in Auckland on Saturday night.
The awards have become part of the national annual general meeting weekend over recent years and they recognize the huge contribution made by volunteers and officials who keep the sport’s wheels turning year after year.
No one does it for awards like these but, let’s be honest, it’s always nice to see all the hard work recognized. A lot of time was spent this weekend reflecting on the past 12 months. On a national basis that was headlined by the London Olympics. Locally, the UCI Juniors Track World Championships was the beacon of a massive year but for me, the continued growth of the sport at grass-roots level was the most pleasing thing.
Hosting an event the scale of Junior Worlds gets you the headlines and gets you the awards, but it’s the volunteers who turn up week after week to assist with club racing or coaching on the velodrome or stand on a wind-swept corner with high-vis vest and flag in hand who put us in the position to put our hands up with events like this.
Then there are those who are also heavily involved on a national basis helping to drive the sport forward in volunteer roles. Steve Canny was reinstalled as the Vice President of Bike Road and Track – the Member Organisation that oversees the sport for the eleven cycling centres throughout the country.
Meanwhile, Graham Sycamore added another line to his ridiculously long cycling CV as he was voted on to the BikeNZ board.
Our good mate Syccie wasn’t able to attend the weekend due to a prior commitment – only the second AGM he has missed in the last 40, (the other when he was in Los Angeles in 1984 for a small event called the Olympics.) Shows you what happens when you miss one mate!
There are challenges ahead for sport at all levels, but with people of this quality rolling their sleeves up nationally and locally to assist the cause, the sport remains in good heart.  
Nick Jeffrey is Chief Executive of Cycling Southland

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tour de Lakes kicks off road season

This weekend emphasised we are in sporting silly season where winter and summer codes cross-over.

The Highlanders kept their 100 percent record, the Steel did the same with their winless streak in Australia over the last five years and the Black Caps showed enough to keep us interested at Eden Park.

From a cycling point of view it means the focus moves from track racing on the Velodrome to out on the road. And it all starts this weekend with the annual Vital Signs Tour de Lakes around Central Otago.

For most, Easter weekend means an extended chance to recharge after a hectic start to the year. For our energetic Tour de Lakes manager Allan Dunn, it is the culmination of months of hard work.

If there's a man in our club with more energy and passion for the sport than Dunny, I'm yet to meet him. He grabbed this event and over recent years has taken it to a new level, solely on the back of his enthusiasm and commitment to the sport and the Easter tour.

This event is very much pitched at the weekend warrior. It's the chance for club riders to test themselves over four days of racing starting with Friday's Prologue time trial to Cromwell and six road stages around Queenstown, Five Rivers, Te Anau and Glenorchy, finishing on Easter Monday.

This year, the event has another element as a perfect lead-up race to the 2013 Club Road Nationals later next month.

Our colleagues at the Central Otago-Wakatipu Cycling Club hosts the largest road and track national championship from April 18 to 21 in Queenstown. With over two weeks to entries closing, numbers look strong with over 600 predicted to take part across 14 different age categories in male and female grades.

The racing will be held on the same course we hosted last year's successful Oceania Road Championships on. A 25 kilometre loop course from Speargrass Flat Road around Millbrook, down Malaghans Road to the Coronet Peak turn-off before climbing Littles Road will test the senior age brackets, while a smaller loop down Hunter Road will be utilised for the junior and older masters' categories.

It will be a tough test, but that's the way it should be when it comes to winning national titles. Southland is a dominant force on the track courtesy of having Stadium Southland Velodrome open all hours, throughout the year, but the performance on the road at national level has been less prevalent over recent years.

The hope is, that with the nationals so close (it's the first time they will be in the South Island since 2009), a large Southland contingent will be on show over the four days of racing.

It won't be the gold-rush we are accustomed to reporting on during Track Nationals, but it will be a key building block in a longer term plan over the next three years to put Southlanders on national road podiums. What better place to start than Queenstown.

Nick Jeffrey is Cycling Southland's Chief Executive