Hawkridge to compete in Tour de Wakatipu

Racers in the New World Tour de Wakatipu around Lakes Hayes last year. Photo by Patrick Fallon.
Racers in the New World Tour de Wakatipu around Lakes Hayes last year. Photo by Patrick Fallon.

Queenstown multisport athlete Jim Hawkridge will join the field of competitors in the annual New World Tour de Wakatipu mountain bike race from Millbrook to Chard Farm for the first time.

Back for its sixth consecutive year, the race will take place on Sunday, April 19.

Hawkridge said in a statement he was looking forward to the challenge of trying to beat last year's fastest time of 1hr 29min, achieved by Matthew Lees in the elite open men's section.

''My current training has been designed to maintain a high threshold level for some time,'' Hawkridge said.

With a recent King of the Mountain title in the Milford Classic, he will provide a real challenge to other elite racers.

''I'm really looking forward to it, the race is in my home patch with part of the trail going right past my backdoor and the exclusive access that the race gives will be fantastic. My thanks go to the farmer for allowing the Tour de Wakatipu this once-a-year access.''

The Tour de Wakatipu starts at Millbrook Resort and finishes at Chard Farm Winery.

The course makes use of the majority of tracks prepared by the Queenstown Trails Trust and the event provides the opportunity to ride them all in one go.

Race director Geoff Hunt said what was good about the race was anyone, at any level, could participate and make it as challenging as they wanted.

Wakatipu residents registered so far include Alastair McIlwrick and Arvid Petersen, plus Sonia and Terry Becconsall.

''We are getting a lot of feedback from people who will be competing in their first-ever event, to elite riders and bikers who are making a comeback to competition,'' Hunt said.

Last year, the race attracted more than 600 competitors and he was expecting similar numbers this year, he said.

''The interest we have had already this year is huge - the versatility of the event caters to cyclists of all abilities.

''At one end we get the serious competitors and at the other we get families interested in a scenic ride around the most beautiful track in the country.''

Last year, the last to finish the event were Jean and Roger Parks from Stourbridge in the United Kingdom, who were visiting their son and his wife here.

Mrs Parks took up mountain biking five years ago at the age of 70 and her husband is 79.

Mr Parks said, ''I have never been on a course like this. It's just so incredible.''

Mrs Parks said she ''found the scenery absolutely stunning'' and that everyone they met was very friendly.