Ever wanted to know what it’s like to be involved with a big bike race and not be a rider? Well it’s an awesome experience after I was lucky enough to be a part of Team Massey in the NZ Cycle Classic.
When Chris Sanson withdrew and Matiu replaced him, I wanted to be a part of the squad and I found myself as an assistant manager, working alongside Phil Fink, also from Massey University. I managed to co-opt Kevin Laskey from Pahiatua as the teams bike mechanic and Steve Stannard, by far the oldest statesman in the peloton, found the support of Mike Christie to drive the Team vehicle. It would be remiss of me not to include Kirsty Kaihau, who was never too far away feeding the riders, doing laundry and of course taking heaps of photos.
Together we formed a great team that ensured the riders were able to concentrate on doing their absolute best. The highlight for me was being able to follow the bunch in the team car in a convoy procession that included up to 30 vehicles.
The competition was very tough and the weather conditions made it even harder, particularly on Saturday and Sunday’s stages. While we did not get anyone onto the podium, I think the entire team can be justifiably proud that all riders finished the tour. That is an achievement is its own right. More importantly, some of the younger riders got some very good experience racing at an elite level with world class athletes. At the conclusion of the tour, there was certainly lots of enthusiasm to emulate what was achieved, over a short space of time, for 2013. Let’s hope that we will see more Manawatu based riders accepting the challenge and racing in next year’s events. The indications are that the Cycle Classic will be based in the Manawatu for the short-term at least and I’m sure the level of interest from the general public will continue to grow over time. Events like these will ensure Bike Manawatu and the region quickly establishes itself as the heart of cycling in NZ.
Mike Christie (BM), Kevin Laskey (BM), Tom Scully (Southland), Max Annear-Henderson (BM), Matiu Kaihau (BM), Dion Smith (Auckland), Steve Stannard (BM), Phil Fink (BM), Oiroa Kaihau (BM)