A significant milestone for mountain biking has been signalled with the official launch of the Mountain Bike National Performance Hub in Rotorua.
The launch took place this afternoon at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology (formerly Waiariki).
Those who attended included district councillors, Toi Ohomai staff, Cycling New Zealand commercial leader Rob Waddell and 25 young riders who will be part of the inaugural National Performance Hub Camp.
Elite mountain bikers Anton Cooper, Sam Gaze and George Brannigan took part in a question-and-answer session during the launch.
The Hub is one of a potential eight hubs which underpin Cycling New Zealand's strategy to foster and grow young cycling talent, and increase the quantity and quality of riders feeding into the National High Performance Programme.
New Zealand Mountain Biking performance coach Sam Thompson said it had been a long but good process to get the hub off the ground.
"I would just like to thank everyone that's been involved in this.
"It's been a vision of mine and others for a pretty long time, so I'm stoked to get it off the ground."
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said Rotorua's tracks were "really world class" and internationally recognised, so it made sense to have the hub here.
"It's just such a special thing for us."
In a press release today Cycling New Zealand chief executive Andrew Matheson said seeing the hub coming to reality was an exciting and rewarding milestone for those involved.
"Working collaboratively with key players within the sport to invest in development and performance pathways is a key to securing top talent and continuing to grow New Zealand's performance outcomes on the world stage.
"We believe these Performance Hubs will be the start of something big".
The National Performance Hub Camp is taking place this week. Riders have access to sports science facilities, resources and performance testing through the partnership with Toi Ohomai, as well as practical on-trail training on Rotorua's trails.
Following the camp, the hub will provide training for a small squad of riders who will be based full-time in Rotorua, as well as running six to eight training camps a year for wider groups of young riders.