Sam Horgan will be back this Saturday to defend the elite Around Brunner road cycle title he won last year.
Horgan, from Christchurch, won last year’s elite men’s road race with the help of his Benchmark team mates. Having changed teams this summer the Subway – Avanti rider will have no team support in this year’s event, and will be up against his former team mates Andrew Williams, Daniel Barry, James McCoy, James Early, Mark Washington and Nick and Leon Hextall for line honours.
“I’m looking forward to the race again,” he said. “It has its challenges and I’m keen to repeat last year’s win.”
In its third year, Around Brunner features the final round of the elite National Points Series (NPS) with 45 elite riders entered in this separate race.
After winning last year’s recreational event Shorty Allnutt from Hokitika has made the step up to the elite race, and the strong local rider should make his presence felt.
Other riders expected to feature are Warmup Cycling Team members Allan Williams and young 16 year old Darcy Ellerm-Norton, former professional Jorg Engelbrecht and his Kelford Cycling Team mates Scott McDonnell and Corey Hodgson, Lester Settle (Ultimo Cycling Team), team Thule members Barry Tinkler, Brad McFarlane and Garry Pearce and Ross MacLennan from Nelson.
Mark Prutton from Christchurch has been injured and his progress on race day will depend on how his recovery has gone, and if Jason Turner (Christchurch) can hold on to the front bunch he should feature in a sprint finish.
Christchurch cyclist Jonathan Gee, 24, was having his final ride before last year’s race but was the victim of a driver cutting into a cycle lane that left him with broken arm, spinal and facial injuries, broken ribs, a broken wrist, collapsed lungs and in a coma for six weeks.
He has been back on the bike and competing over summer and is looking forward to being on the start line in the elite field for this year’s event.
Jeannie Kuhajek (Star & Garter Tasman Cycling Team) from Nelson leads the female entries in the NPS race with last year’s female winner Nicole Anderson (Benchmark), Josie Giddens (Cycle Surgery/Lowe & Associates) and Aimee Burns expected to feature as well.
Giddens carries good recent form into the event, winning the Easter Tour de Lakes event in Central Otago and Northern and Western Southland.
There are over 1100 riders entered in the recreational event, and the 160 teams entered is the largest number of team entries of any cycle event in the South Island.
Around Brunner covers 130 km starting and finishing in central Greymouth.