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Queenstown's Mark Williams, who set a new record last year when he fought off a tight challenge, has confirmed he will race in the New World Tour de Wakatipu on his return from South Africa.
William’s is presently competing with fellow racer Malcolm McLeod from Alexandra in the ninth edition of the Absa Cape Epic mountain bike race. He is due to return to New Zealand a couple of days before the Tour de Wakatipu, having raced for over 8 days, and covered more than 800kms and 15 000m of climbing.
When asked to comment on how he will feel by then, Williams commented: “I get back on Wednesday, and I think I'll be up for it too! You've got to defend the title, eh.”
The New World Tour de Wakatipu on April 7 continues to attract widespread interest due to the stunning and varied course starting at Queenstown's Millbrook Resort and finishing in the vines at the Chard Farm Winery.
Race Director Geoff Hunt says it is the only time of the year people have access through Coneburn Station along the Kawarau River which is part of the appeal of the event.
“What is good about this race is that anyone, at any level, can participate and make it as challenging as they want. We are getting a lot of feedback from people who will be competing in their first ever event, to elite riders and bikers who are making a come back to competition.”
Beginning at Millbrook Resort the course leads to Speargrass Flat Road, and over Slopehill Road to a single track alongside the Shotover River and across the restored Lower Shotover Bridge.
The next stage joins part of the Kawarau River track via the Shotover delta, and then a short section of state highway to the privately owned Kawarau River road on Coneburn Station, finishing at Chard Farm.
Sponsor John Thompson, from New World Wakatipu is a keen mountain biker and has competed the event since its inception. He says it has fantastic variety.
“I love the start at Millbrook and throughout the ride there are some great views. What I particularly like is that the course makes use of some of the tracks prepared by the Wakatipu Trails Trust and people will be able to experience all the good work that has gone on over the last few years round this part of the district.”
Competitors will ride through the vines at Chard Farm to the finish line where a mini wine and food style event will take place.
“We're looking at creating a vibrant atmosphere with music, food and wine,” says Hunt. “We expect there will be a big turnout of locals as well as out of towners keen to take on some new territory,.”
The New World Tour de Wakatipu will donate funds to Cure Kids which funds research in children's life threatening illnesses and to the continuous debvelopement of the Wakatipu Trails Trust tracks.
Entries close on Wednesday 5th April.