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Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge

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Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge to return in November 2017

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The 2017 Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge will start and finish at the yet to be completed Saxton Velodrome on November 18.

Event organiser John McIntyre has confirmed the Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge will return next year after close to 600 riders made their way from Saxton Field to Kaiteriteri and back, a 158km long journey, in a successful inaugural race.

Pleased with the number of participants in the first year, McIntyre said next year's aim was to attract 2000 riders.

John McIntyre organiser of the Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge.

MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

John McIntyre organiser of the Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge.

"I don't see that being out of the question," he said.

"We have new events that we will have, new disciplines and categories, and we've had great feedback from the current participants that they are keen to come back and they are bringing a friend, so we think that number is definitely achievable."

Although the scenic course, which McIntyre said "worked really, really well," will remain largely unchanged, the start and finish line will be moved to the velodrome, which is currently under construction at Saxton Field.

"The course is the jewel in the crown of the event but the start and the finish area are the first things we want to change," he said.

"The new velodrome will bring together the whole home of cycle feel to the event and it'll make it feel more like our own event, where although Saxton Field was fantastic for us it's a multi-use venue and we had to share it with lots of other people, which didn't help with the finish."

The 2016 Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge was won by Olympic Games rowing champion Hamish Bond in a blistering time of three hours, 51 minutes and 51 seconds.

Though McIntyre said he expected an increase in elite participants next year, the focus will remain on catering for mass number of recreational riders.

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"I think we can look after the elite riders better than we did this year, they have different demands, and I think the fact that Hamish had such a good performance and achieved such a fast time, there will be more elites wanting to enter and we will welcome them, but our real focus is on the recreational rider and it always will be.

"We're looking at how we can look after them better and they're the people we want to see come back next year in their droves and make this the biggest participation event in Nelson-Tasman, which has always been our goal."

McIntyre said the prizegiving will be moved forward next year, caught out by how fast the course was completed this year.

"The times those recreation riders did from anywhere between mid-four hours or mid-six hours is phenomenal for a 160km challenging, technical and hilly course. Those people you have to tip your hat to them because you had to do the training, you couldn't just do those sort of numbers.

"I very impressed with those times, so much so that it caught us by surprise and our prizegiving started two hours too late because we predicted the average time would be six to eight hours"

McIntyre said further details will be revealed next year, already busy planning ahead for the 2017 race.

 - Stuff