City cycle race ditched

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The most iconic race has been ditched from the Konica Minolta Cycle Festival – a move the Tasman Wheelers vice president says is “disappointing”. The Nelson City Criterium, which saw cyclists whizz around the church steps and city streets at high speeds, is the most notable omission from the 2013 event’s calendar. Organisers listed cost, logistics, the reliance on volunteers and the fact it was mainly for “elite” riders as reasons for its absence. “What we’re trying to do is getting a better mix of more community events with harder races, but making it more inclusive,” they said, hinting at a more participation-orientated festival. “Preferably we want to see an event at the top end of Trafalgar St and we don’t think this is gone. When we review the calendar I’m sure it’ll come up again but we need someone to put their hand up and the guys just have too much on.” Tasman Wheelers vice president Dean Fulton says logistically it was becoming increasingly more difficult to run similar races because of the council sign offs needed for road closures. “Getting partial or full road stoppage is a nightmare,” he says. “There are still people still putting on events, going through that whole process, but we’re finding now what a rigmarole it is to set up a course where we’re asking the traffic to divert. I imagine even setting up the Santa Parade would be a nightmare.” As a competitor, Dean believed the criterium and the Urban Cross Country Race, which is still going ahead and involves racing through Nelson College, were the best events on last year’s Cycle Festival schedule. “At the moment I don’t have any answer for it, I’m just watching things unfold and shaking my head.” In whatever form, organisers say it is their goal to have an event at the top of Trafalgar St in future years, while Dean would like to see a road race through Richmond’s Queen St. “People should have a festival atmosphere and adsorb it. It’d be a hoot.” The Nelson Cycle Festival, which runs until November 3, begins this Saturday. For a full event schedule visit www.nelsoncyclefest.co.nz.