The River City Wheel Race's rain cancellation for the second year in a row has organiser and former national coach Ron Cheatley "really over it" as he stares at rotting wooden boards removed from a Whanganui velodrome without a roof.

By Friday, over 75 riders from around the North Island had been confirmed for the 70th edition of the annual Wheel Race and it's 24 other support races, despite the ominous rain clouds on the horizion.

Among them was the dream team of New Zealand's 2017 world champion and 2016 Olympic silver medallist sprinters Eddie Dawkins, Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell.

But just as it was in February 2017, the event was called off at 9am on Saturday, ahead of the 4pm scheduled start, due to the wetness of the track and prospect of further rain over the next two days.

I can also tell you the wooden surface hasn't got a lot more life left in it. - Ron Cheatley


While the traditional Wheel Race itself could still possibly be run as part of regular local cycling day in March, there is now no chance of having an international calibre event with the New Zealand cyclists based up north committed to the nationals and then the 2018 world championships.

Wednesday's property and community services meeting at the Whanganui District Council tabled a report stating it would cost $285,000 to run an upgraded velodrome with a roof, leaving a deficit just under $239,000 after income under the scenario where there is no sponsorship or grant money.

These estimates were made to "assist decisions around whether to commit ratepayers to financially support any operational shortfalls".

In a email to the Wanganui Chronicle, Cheatley hammered the WDC's costing report which "has a lot of holes in it".

"Council is dragging their feet too much with getting on with the roofing project especially with the government having allocated six million dollars towards it – that allocation won't sit there forever," said Cheatley.

"We have previously had to cancel two International Night of the Stars and three major River City Wheel Race promotions – it's so disappointing with all the volunteer work that goes into it, I'm really over it."

Cheatley said not many local sports could bring five current world champions to the city to compete, plus up to 80 other riders from around the North Island.

"Multiply that by coaches, parents, supporters etc and add up the lost economic benefits to Whanganui."

Cheatley said he has tried to encourage WDC staff and councillors to take a group up to the national training hub in Cambridge and see what makes that velodrome so successful, while the new velodrome in Brisbane has been built "with the same membrane structure proposed for Whanganui".

"They need to sit around the table with people who can explain everything accurately and get a real feel how an indoor velodrome operates, instead of just sitting on their hands here being negative as they really have no idea.

"I can also tell you the wooden surface hasn't got a lot more life left in it.

"A number of rotten boards have had to be replaced this summer.

"It's lasted 23 years – which is well beyond the norm for an outdoor wooden track thanks to the local climatic conditions."