The wood doesn't need rain

By Jared Smith

If the weather holds, another good lineup is expected for the 69th River City Wheel Race this afternoon.
If the weather holds, another good lineup is expected for the 69th River City Wheel Race this afternoon.

Organisers will have up until midday to decide whether this evening's 69th River City Wheel Race can go ahead in wet conditions at the Velodrome with a bolter likely to step up and claim the crown this year.

Leading contenders like 2013 and 2016 winner Jordan Castle are away with the New Zealand team at the World Cup in Columbia, while former Olympic bronze medallist and four-time wheel race winner Simon Van Velthooven announced this week he is switching sports to join Team New Zealand for the America's Cup campaign.

Back to compete is surprise 2014 winner Carne Groube of Palmerston North, as the teenager worked with a number of riders to win the six-lap handicap race when the favourites in back markers Castle and junior world champion Campbell Stewart raced against each other rather than in co-operation to miss their chance to catch up.

Running roughly three hours, the 20-discipline event will be headlined by the Wheel Race, as well as Under 15-17 grades, invitation sprints, 10km sprint and scratch races, as well as keirin events and points races.

Last year's programme had over 50 entries, but with rain scheduled for late afternoon on the wooden track, there could be a dampener on proceedings.

Co-ordinator Ron Cheatley said with riders coming from as far as Wellington, they would have to make the call by lunchtime if the event goes ahead, is postponed outright, or can be held tomorrow afternoon.

"We're living by the hour at the moment."

While the World Cup has taken away some of the stars, there are still some top players scheduled to be at the Velodrome today.

Coming from Cycling NZ's Western Bay of Plenty Performance Hub are Sam Dakin, Jackson Ogle, and Callum Saunders.

Dakin was third in Men's Keirin at the 2017 New Zealand Elite championships, while Ogle won the Under 19 Men's Sprint, Keirin and Kilo races, setting records in the former two.
Saunders was fourth in the elite sprints.

Also coming is Lewis Eccles, who went to the 2015 Junior World Championships and is a member of the current high performance development sprint squad.

There will be women's open, elimination and 3000m 'point & lap' events, where Emma Cumming and Olivia Podmore will be expected to shine.

Cumming has won gold and silver in the Team Sprint at the Junior World Championships, and this year was second in 500m TT and third in the sprint at the Elite Championships.

Podmore was with Cumming for the Team Sprint silver at the 2015 Junior World champs, while winning the Women's Keirin at this year's Elite Champs and coming second in the Sprint.

Weather dependent, the formal programme starts at 3pm.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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