Napier is on the cusp of becoming part of New Zealand cycling history when the under-23 men's champion emerges from the road racing nationals here on Sunday next week.

The NZCC Trophy will be presented to the age-group winner of the BDO-sponsored U23 & New Zealand Road Cycling Championship to be staged here from Saturday.

Napier City Council events manager Kevin Murphy, who is working with championship director Ivan Aplin, says it's the first time the trophy will be presented in the country.

"It's fantastic Napier has got the opportunity to present it for the first time and it's at the foyer of the MTG for the public to view," says Murphy of the Museum Theatre Gallery along Marine Parade.


He says it a "cool story" pertaining to an inimitable part of World War I.

The only tenuous Hawke's Bay connection to the NZCC Trophy is that U23 rider Sam Bewley will be in the pack.

While Bewley was born in Rotorua, his mother, Murphy says, lives in the Bay.

Bewley and fellow New Zealand World Tour rider Jack Bauer received the trophy in Belgium last month.

The service of the New Zealand Cyclist Corps remains something of an untold story in both war and cycling history.

The NZCC was formed from men training to be mounted riflemen, conducting scouting and reconnaissance work, burying telegraph cables and navigating on roads impassable to vehicles, while also serving in the trenches as infantrymen.

The New Zealand cyclist companies served exclusively on the Western Front, participating in the Messines and Passchendaele offensives in 1917 and the Spring Offensive and Advance to Victory in 1918.

They sustained particularly heavy losses at the Battle of Kemmelberg in Flanders. Since that time that cobblestoned hill has developed into a significant part of cycling history in Belgium, and a decisive part of the annual Gent-Wevelgem World Tour race.


The trophy features a cobblestone from the Kemmelberg, the scene of major loss of life by members of the specialist New Zealand Cyclist Corps nearly 100 years ago, but now a famed cobbled climb in the World Tour Classics in Flanders Fields each year.

The Gent-Wevelgem World Tour and Nations Cup races in March and April next year will commemorate 100 years of the Battle of Mont Kemmel, where so many young Kiwi men lost their lives.

With the support of the town and the cycling organisers, a new trophy has been manufactured, lifting a pavé from the Kemmelberg and setting it in wood taken from the trenches, and presented to Cycling New Zealand.

Cycling NZ plans to send a team to compete in the Gent-Wevelgem Nations Cup in March at the time of the commemoration when the story will be complete.