Some of the top names in New Zealand cycling will be coming back to the velodrome next Saturday for the 70th edition of the River City Wheel Race event.

It will be the most star-studded lineup for the 25-race card since the full New Zealand sprint squad and four international riders attended the international Night of the Stars in 2014, which was also the 66th Wheel Race.

The Wheel Race itself will be the third to last discipline on the card, which starts with Open Men Invitation Keirin Heats, followed by omnium races and then the junior events.
There will also be scratch races and an attempt to break a Flying 200m record.

The names most people will recognise are the three members of New Zealand's 2016 Rio Olympics silver medal winning sprint team and the 2017 world champions – Eddie Dawkins (Invercargill), Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell (both Auckland).


The trio were the sole bright spot for the New Zealand team on the cycling track in Rio – winning the only medal despite expectations of a handful more.

Mitchell was also third in the individual sprint at the 2017 world championships in Hong Kong, while Dawkins has second in the Keirin at the the 2016 world championships in London and has won team sprint world titles in 2013-14 and 2016-17.

Webster has similar team sprint success with Dawkins, while his best ever performance was two gold medals and a silver at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Their fellow Olympian Natasha Hansen (Auckland), who has a string of Top 10 performances at world championships as well as Rio 2016 and London 2012, will likely spend much of the evening competing against the men with only one specific Open Women's event in the Invitational Team Sprint.

No stranger to Whanganui is the former two-time Wheel Race winner in Jordan Castle (Palmerston North), who entered World Cup and Oceania championship events last year.

Bradley Knipe (Invercargill), Callum Saunders (Blenheim) and Zac Williams (Auckland) are all promising riders in their early 20's who have been to Junior World Championships, with Williams also owning a Top 10 finish in the 10000m TT in Hong Kong last year.

Traditionally, the Wheel Race will attract between 50-60 riders overall.

Last year's event required a restart as rain saw an early finish to the February 19 event, which was then rescheduled to the back-up day on March 4.

Wellington's George Jackson became one of the youngest ever winners of the Wheel Race, stretching back to 1948, at just 17-years-old.