71km bike race a winner

Invercargill Classic as well as being crowned the fastest under-19 rider on Saturday.

RIDERS from throughout the South Island descended on Southland at the weekend to take part in New Zealand’s longest-running club classic cycling race.

About 50 cyclists rode 71km in the Stonewood Homes Gore to Invercargill race on Saturday.

Cycling South marketing manager Eugene Bonthuys said the race was first run in 1930, and the trophy featured some top names in the sport.

The race was run using a handicap format, with riders starting in reverse order of ability, he said.

This means the fastest riders, who start in the “scratch” group, have the biggest deficit to make up, giving everyone the chance to win first place.

The first cyclist to cross the line in Invercargill was 16-year-old James Gardner, of Dunedin, who was also the fastest under-19 rider.

He was pleased with the achievement as it was the first time he had taken part in the race and it was a good start to the mountain-bike season.

“I always ride for fun and enjoy that side of things. Racing comes second – that is the joy of training hard as racing becomes something fun, something to look forward to.”

The win was even more special as it was his last holiday weekend, which was a good start to the school year, he said.