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by Greta Yeoman

Young cyclists will wheel their way into Timaru this weekend for the South Island Secondary Schools Road Cycling Championships.

More than 200 year 7-13 pupils will descend on South Canterbury for the two-day event, which will involve team time trials and road races, Sport Canterbury South Canterbury regional manager Shaun Campbell said.

The event was being held in Timaru for the first time as the usual venue, Christchurch, was set to hold the national competition later in the year, he said.

The young pedallers from 54 schools around the South Island would compete in time trials at Pareora River Rd on Saturday and in Levels Raceway on Sunday.

All of Timaru’s secondary schools – Timaru Boys’, Timaru Girls’ and Mountainview High Schools and Craighead Diocesan School and Roncalli College – had entered cyclists, Mr Campbell said.

If the event was successful, he hoped it might be held in Timaru again.

While it was not a qualifying event for cyclists who wanted to go to the nationals, it was an opportunity for the young riders to pit themselves against pupils from other schools, he said.

There had been concern numbers would fewer because the competition was not being held in Christchurch, but this had not proven to be the case.

“Entries are pretty good,” Mr Campbell said.

He welcomed the public along to watch both days of racing but warned those driving out to Pareora River Rd to be aware of cyclists in the area.

Saturday’s racing would begin at 10am and would run until about 3pm, and Sunday’s road races would go from 9am to 4pm.

The young cyclists would compete in any weather that came their way, Mr Campbell said.

“[We] pretty much have to go unless it gets unsafe.”