Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Rotorua to become top-level mountain bike hub

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Tak Mutu, Dave Donaldson and rider Tuhoto-Ariki Pene are excited by the Cycling NZ proposal. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
Tak Mutu, Dave Donaldson and rider Tuhoto-Ariki Pene are excited by the Cycling NZ proposal. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

Rotorua is set to become the country's official home of mountain biking with Cycling New Zealand keen on setting up the Mountain Bike National Performance Hub in the city.

Details of where the hub will be built and when, and how much it would cost, are yet to be revealed but councillors will discuss a funding recommendation at a meeting of the Rotorua Lakes Council's operations and monitoring committee tomorrow.

The establishment of the hub is set to be formally announced in September or October.

Also making a presentation at the meeting will be Cycling New Zealand's chief executive Andrew Matheson and commercial leader Rob Waddell.

You just have to look at the headquarters in Cambridge and see what cycling has done for that community. It's brought in new money, new people, coaches, staff and new events. So there's lots of potential for it to grow here in Rotorua.
Deputy Mayor Dave Donaldson

An agenda report to councillors stated Cycling New Zealand was ready to develop a "structured national athlete development programme focused on providing opportunities and pathways for young aspiring riders to reach their potential and inspire the next generation".

"Once fully operational, the National Performance Hub will have one full-time head coach and two further part-time coaches. The targeted participants of this programme will be from developing young riders, through to established elite mountain bike riders.

"The intention is that the MTB National Performance Hub will support up to 20 permanent athletes in Rotorua plus facilitate a number of training camps throughout the year for targeted international riders and additional development riders," the report stated.

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Rotorua will be one of two national performance hubs for cycling along with the Avantidrome in Cambridge, which trains and develops track cyclists and is the head office for Cycling New Zealand.

In a recommendation to councillors, staff suggested the council could invest $50,000 per year for four years to support the hub's development.

The money would come from "operational and portfolio funds from both the sport and recreation and economic development areas within existing overall programmes", and would have "no impact on overall ratepayer funding".

Rotorua's Malcolm Thomas - Cycling New Zealand board member, Rotorua Mountain Biking Club treasurer and Crankworx director - said it was an exciting project for the district. "It will be for those immediately below the elite-level riders who are looked after by High Performance New Zealand," said Mr Thomas.

"Below the elite level there was nothing for them. The hub would be the place in New Zealand to effectively be part of a programme getting them to the top level," he said.

Up-and-coming local downhill rider, Tuhoto-Ariki Pene, 15, said he was excited by the opportunities.

"It's a good idea. I love mountain biking and may have a future in the sport if I keep going at it.

"Having something like that in Rotorua would be awesome for the future."

Deputy mayor Dave Donaldson said he was keen to see Cycling New Zealand's presentation.

"You just have to look at the headquarters in Cambridge and see what cycling has done for that community. It's brought in new money, new people, coaches, staff and new events. So there's lots of potential for it to grow here in Rotorua."

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