A 21-year-old accused of hitting a cyclist after the cyclist gave him the fingers has had his assault charge upgraded.
Taupo dairy farmer Joseph Arthur Frederick Roberts, 21, appeared in the Taupo District Court today on a more serious charge of injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm to Taupo cyclist Alasdair Slade.
Mr Slade, an Ironman competitor, was injured while on a training ride last Monday.
He suffered serious pelvic injuries and a broken collarbone, and was transferred from Rotorua to Waikato Hospital this morning in a stable condition.
Duty solicitor Steven Clarkson, representing Roberts, asked Judge Chris McGuire for interim name suppression and also to decline permission for media to take photographs in the court room. Judge McGuire turned down both requests, saying there had already been significant media interest and that cyclist safety had been the subject of public comment, concern and debate for several years.
However, he added that there was a need for fair and balanced reporting given the publicity that had already surrounded the case. Roberts did not enter a plea.
He was remanded on bail to reappear on March 13.
Mr Slade, a prison officer at Rangipo Prison and an eight-time finisher of Ironman New Zealand, earlier said triathletes riding on the Ironman New Zealand bike course were sitting targets.
"Every cyclist has a bullseye on their butt," he told The Daily Post from hospital yesterday.
"It's pretty gutting but I am accepting of the situation. There is a reason under heaven for all that happens to us."
Warwick Hall, a friend and cycling partner of Mr Slade's, said of all the cyclists he knows, his friend was the safest.
"I've known Alasdair for a long time. He is so safe; he never does anything he shouldn't and he always rides hard left.
"We've all had close calls. I got cut off on Sunday. It's a sad realisation when you set out on your bike knowing you're rolling the dice.
"You either get into an altercation or you get hit. Every time we always have a coffee after the ride and we talk about how many close shaves we've had.
"We've got six inches on the left of you, you're doing 40km/h, I don't think the motorist is going to throw themselves into a ditch so why should we?"