Cyclists in full flight at this year’s Age Group Road Cycling National Championships in Cambridge. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

JAKE BELESKI

jake.beleski@age.co.nz

About 700 cyclists will descend on Carterton in April next year to contest the Vantage Age Group Road Cycling National Championships.

Cycling New Zealand has announced Wairarapa as the host of the 2018 event, which will run during the school holidays from April 20-22.

It will be based in Carterton with Cycling New Zealand being supported by the host club, Athletics and Cycling Masterton (ACM).

The event attracts the best junior elites and domestic elite cyclists to join the leading age-group competitors from throughout the country, with entries from under-15 years to over 75 years.

David Howden, a committee member at the ACM, led the presentation to Cycling New Zealand to try and secure the rights to host the event, and said it had been on his mind for four or five years.

“It’s huge for us – we’re central to Wellington and Palmerston North, and not too far from Hawke’s Bay, which are major cycling centres, and we have such good roads.

“That’s why I’m so pleased to have it here – it will increase Wairarapa’s profile amongst the cycling community.”

The race hub will be located at the Carterton Events Centre, which was a point of difference that helped secure the event, Howden said.

The event is usually held at rugby clubs or schools out in the country, and that would require bringing extra facilities in.

With the Carterton Events Centre, they had nearly everything they would need already in place, he said.

“We’ve had really good cooperation from Carterton District Council as well.”

To enter the championships you only have to be a member of an affiliated club, and Wairarapa cyclists have enjoyed success at the event in previous years.

“Lesley Mouat has won this event in her age group a few times, and we usually have five or six people who would enter from our club.

“A lot of Wellington people come over to ride here most weekends as well, and at least two of their clubs hold most of their events over here, so it’s a great result for them as well.”

Cycling New Zealand CEO, Andrew Matheson, said the championships are an important part of Cycling New Zealand’s calendar, as it’s the one week each year for the age-group members to come together to compete on the road and renew friendships and rivalries.

“It is also an important event for our best young riders and a key component in selecting riders for major international events, and as a means of talent identification as we continue to develop our Regional Performance Hubs to a fully national network to provide a vital pathway to the Olympics and professional careers.

“We are delighted to be venturing to the Wairarapa which is noted for its outstanding terrain for cycling and has successfully hosted national and international events over the years including the New Zealand Cycle Classic.”

Destination Wairarapa general manager David Hancock was also part of the team that helped secure the rights to the event, and said having the event held in the heart of the Wairarapa would have huge benefits for the entire region.

“Past feedback from riders and their support crews has been overwhelmingly positive when talking about our hospitality, our scenery and the quality of riding offered.

“We want to ensure riders and their families coming next year will have a wonderful time, see some exciting racing and go back home talking about their great experience in the Wairarapa.

They were looking forward to working with Cycling New Zealand and the ACM to stage a fantastic event, he said.

Carterton Mayor John Booth agreed the benefits to the region will be significant.

“The announcement is an incredibly exciting event for the region and in particular Carterton.

“With the race hub being located at the Carterton Events Centre, this will provide a wonderful spin-off for local businesses. “

They were thrilled to be able to showcase the Carterton district to the rest of New Zealand and beyond, he said.

“I take my hat off to the team from ACM who drove the bid to secure the event and will work along Cycling New Zealand to deliver this event.

“Their hard work and vision has paid off, and now the Wairarapa will benefit hugely.”