About 5000 cyclists took part in the first approved mass crossing of the Auckland Harbour Bridge early yesterday.

Braving strong winds, which delayed the start by an hour, riders ranged from competitive cyclists to children and their parents.

The Transport Agency gave permission for the 2.3km crossing, and closing of two southbound lanes.

Cyclists were protected from opposing motorway traffic by a phalanx of 150 buses from the Metrolink and North Star fleets of NZ Bus, which lined up from the bridge to the Northern Busway.

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The inaugural TelstraClear Challenge included four races.

The 110km Solo Challenge for elite cyclists was won by Jeremy Yates in the time of 2:47:46.

Women's champion Emma Crum finished in 3:13:59.

Other challenge events were a 15km ride taking in the bridge and the busway over distances of 8km and 2km.

Entry fees ranged from $110 for racers and $65 for the 15km event, and $10 for adults and children in the busway events.

The occasion raised $70,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society research and support services.

Event director Callum McNair said seeing cyclists take over the bridge was "a dream come true" and an enormous achievement for the cycling community.