The combination of fierce competition and serious fun has created a Hawke's Bay cycling event which organisers believe can only grow and which will continue to be the hosting ground for the Elite Road National Cycling Championships.

While Napier is in its second year of the three-year deal to stage the annual blue riband competition event, Napier City Council events manager Kevin Murphy and Mayor Bill Dalton said the signs were all there that the city was in great shape to get the hosting nod again after 2018.

"It has been absolutely fantastic," Mr Dalton said.

Unlike past national road championships in other regions the Napier event had been built around an entire festival of cycling, the Summer Cycling Carnival, which had been created for all ages to embrace.


"It's all about getting people out on the bike," Mr Dalton said, adding with a smile that he too had "bought a new bike".

"We got it [the elite championships] for three years and this is year two and who knows what may happen after that," he said.

But the way it had run and the response it had attracted from the public put it in a great position to remain here, Mr Dalton said.

Mr Murphy agreed and said later this year they would apply to Cycling New Zealand for two more years.

While Cycling New Zealand had not formally brought up the notion of Napier retaining the event, one member of the organisation said the link between the elite events and the whole landscape of fun and recreational cycling was unique and had been "very well carried out".

"We have worked on a few things since last year and we are learning a few more things this year," Mr Murphy said.

"It might not be exactly right but we are nearly there."

One of the riders in yesterday's Elite National Men's Road Race may have summed it up for all.


As he pushed the pedals up the Spencer Rd rise on the first of the eight "hill" laps he took in the 300-strong gathering on the Botanical Gardens hillside and nearby houses and looked across at the rider beside him and was heard to say "this is pretty cool".

The council staff had handed out 200 small cowbells and they, with whistles and cheering, filled the air creating an electric atmosphere.

Many spectators were in party mode and had dressed up.

Fred Flintstone was there, as was Evel Knievel, Where's Wally and even a gorilla - despite the heat.

After the riders had passed they, and others at screen spots around the circuit, were able to keep up with the action through live-streaming which Mr Murphy said was another first for the event.

One couple, visiting from Germany and enjoying a kerbside cold drink, said it was "incredible" that the city was able to stay open "while there is a big race going through it".

Mr Dalton said the benefits to the region were clear.

"This festival along with the New Zealand Grand Prix at the speedway has brought so many people to the Bay that I was told on Friday night the nearest accommodation was Palmerston North."

He said in terms of the festival events, which involved all ages and all abilities, participation had been excellent, and many people had travelled to the Bay to be part of it all.

"People have really got into it and it's been great to see."

And even the often fickle weather played ball, despite some 45-plus km/h gusts whistling through when yesterday's race began around 9am.

By noon the winds were still rustling the leaves but they had dropped.

"The crosswinds are a major factor," event ambassador and former pro' rider Julian Dean said.

But, he added, it was simply something each rider had to deal with in his own way.

He said the entire series of events had been something to celebrate.