Cycling: Rivalry drives Taupo competitors

This year's 36th Contact Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge on Saturday will include something we all love, the classic transtasman sport rivalry.

Some of New Zealand's best cyclists will again be taking on the annual pilgrimage to Taupo on Saturday including recent Tour Of Southland winner Mike Northey who hopes to continue his winning form against the other 70 or so entrants in the 160km men's classic race, which include last year's winner Michael Torckler and recent Olympic bronze medallist Aaron Gate.

"I have been coming to the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge since I was about 13 years old with family and friends. It's a great event and always a fun weekend. I have my teammate Matt Cronshaw out from the UK at the moment, he will be racing with me. I have been on the podium twice in the classic race and would love to come away with the win this year," Northey said.

The OPI women's road race will see four elite riders from Australia - Rebecca Locke, Nicole Whitburn, Naomi Williams and Sarah Riley - coming across the ditch to take on some of New Zealand's best including Emma Crum, Rushlee Buchanan, Kate Chilcott and Reta Trotman.

If that isn't enough, rising New Zealand mountain bike star, Karen Hanlen from Whakatane, will be taking on the Contact Huka XL mountain bike race. This is the same event that Hanlen did her first competitive race in - back in 2009 - and won last year. Since then she has gone on to the Olympics as well as taking the title of 2012 NZ National Mountain Bike Champion and Oceania Champion.

Late entries for the 12 event categories within the cycle challenge will be available at the Great Lake Centre in Taupo from 10am to 10pm tomorrow. Organisers are expecting up to 8500 entrants this year with more than 300 internationals and 100 multi-lap enduro riders already entered.

Event director Kay Brake said anyone thinking of coming along could be assured of a great time.

"Whether you're riding or there as support, we have a whole lot of options to keep you entertained over event weekend, as well as over $150,000 of spot prizes up for grabs"

The cycle challenge has 12 different events available, catering for all fitness and ability levels.

It is a community event, operated by a charitable trust on behalf of the Taupo Moana Rotary Club. More than 700 local volunteers contribute to the event with the proceeds going back into the Taupo community. Contact Energy is the event's principal partner.

@Heart is the official charity of the cycle challenge and will be asking riders to support their fundraising page when they enter the event. To view the range of event options and other key information for event day, go to the website

- Rotorua Daily Post

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