A record of more than 600 riders will contest the Cycling New Zealand Schools Southern and Northern Tours over the next week.
The four-stage Southern Tour, organised by Cycling Marlborough and presented by Cuddons Engineering, takes place in Blenheim from 31 August-1 September and includes an individual time trial, criterium, hill climb and road race.
The three-stage Northern Tour, organised by Cycling New Zealand and presented by ICON, a division of BJ Ball, will be held in Auckland from 7-8 September, and includes an individual time trial, hill climb and criterium.
Almost 300 intermediate and secondary schools affiliate to the Cycling New Zealand Schools programme with around 3,570 students competed over 11 events last year across all cycling codes.
Over 160 riders will travel from as far north as Auckland, and as far south as Wanaka to compete in the Southern Tour, a 20 percent increase from last year. Christchurch Boys High School has 25 riders competing, the largest contingent from any one school, with Maria and Rangi Ruru also fielding large teams. Local hopes will rest on 16 riders from Bohally Intermediate and Marlborough Boys and Girls Colleges. In total, 47 schools will take part in the two-day event.
Five riders who completed the clean-sweep of jerseys from last year return including double track world champion Laurence Pithie (Christchurch BHS) who will swap the track for the road after his outstanding performances in Germany that netted omnium and Madison gold medals. Jaxson Whyte (Roncalli) and Nick Rush (Rolleston) will be names to look out for in the under-16 and under-15 boys grades.
Riders from the national Subway Performance Hub programme are well represented in the girls grades, with Upper South Hub’s Henrietta Christie (Lincoln), Erin Downie (Burnside), Mikaela Grant (Villa Maria), Jenna Borthwick (St Margarets), Charlotte Spurway (Rangi Ruru) and Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Hub’s Jorja Clouth (Baradene) and Ally Gothard (Epsom Girls), competing across under-16, under-17, and under-20 age groups. Also competing will be newly crowned Cyclocross National under-19 champion Caitlin Titheridge from Mt Hutt College.
Riders will contest the National Hill Climb and Time Trial titles for the first time, and jerseys for Sprint Ace, King/Queen of the Mountain, and General Classification will also be awarded in each age group at the Tour’s end.
The event is well supported by local businesses: Guddon Engineering Innovation, Fulton Hogan, New Zealand Home Loans, Forklift Hire, G.J Gardner Homes, Crafar Crouch, Bikefit, Craig Harper Building Services, indevin, Precision Auto Centre, AitkenTaylor, New Zealand Crown Sheetmetal, Lundons Law, Marlborough Podiatry, Tractor Repairs & Spares, Duff Family, GearUp, Isabel, WK+ Advisors & Accountants, Blastcoat Limited, CycleWorld, Lake Chalice, BP Computers, Gascoigne Wicks, Body Restore, Sweep, JWME, MV and Simcox.
Almost 500 riders will represent 55 different schools over the weekend, from as far north as Kaitaia, and as south as Christchurch at the Northern Tour.
The largest school (50 riders) is from Baradene College (Auckland) who continue their strong representation and history in schools cycling events with strong numbers from outside the Auckland region led by 20 riders representing St Peters Cambridge.
There are 18 schools with single rider representation including Callum Nisbet (Matamata College) and Lily Greenwood representing the most southern school, Rangi Ruru Girls School.
Riders will contest the National Criterium title on Sunday, and jerseys for Sprint Ace and General Classification will also be awarded in each age group at the Tour’s end.
The event and titles continues to be popular in the schools cycling calendar with all but the U20 Girls from 2018 returning to defend their tiles in new age groups. Xander White (Cambridge High School) will defend his senior boys title, up against 45 riders including Lachie Dickson (Auckland Grammar), also back from the Junior Track World Championships in Germany. Also likely to pose a threat will be Barnaby Clegg-Shaw (Auckland Grammar) and Jacob Hannan (Saint Kentigern), who along with White, are fresh off an international racing experience in France with the New Zealand under-19 road team.
The U20 Girls will be wide open with the withdrawal of last year’s U17 champion, Ella Wyllie (Epsom Girls Grammar).
The large Auckland School presence is led by riders from The Barfoot and Thompson Auckland Hub including Ally Gothard, Lucy Thomson (Epsom Girls School), Prudence Fowler (Diocesan School for Girls), Lara Hopkinson, Jorga Clouth (Baradene College), Lucy Buckeridge (Takapuna Grammar School), Oliver Grave, Lachlan Dickson (Auckland Grammar School), Aiden Merrick (St Peter’s College), Ewart Bower (Westlake Boys High), Sophie de Vries (St Peters Cambridge), Liam Regan (Scared Heart College)
The event is supported by ICON, a division of BJ Ball and Hireace. There is a time trial , hill climb and criterium based in and around Panmure.