THE VITAL SIGNS TOUR DE LAKES
This is an inspiring 4 day tour that begins with a prologue in Cromwell and finishes with Stage 6 - a race from Glenorchy to the top of the Moke Lake Road.
A full programe, entry forms & race information can be located on the web site, link below or contact the organiser Allan Dunn by emailing him at [email protected] or phone 021 773 701
Date: 1 April
The original event was organised during the 1960's by the Glengarry Amateur Cycling Club. The tour started in Invercargill and the cyclist raced to Queenstown on Queens Birthday Weekend . There were three stages held on the Saturday on the trip to Queenstown and on the Sunday there were two stages held in and around Queenstown.
The old car racing circuit in down town Queenstown was usually used for a criterium to finish the event (imagine using that circuit these days). The weather was generally terrible, snow, hail or frost were all part of usual winter conditions that greeted the hardened riders each year.
1991 saw the last Queenstown tour as it was then known and it quietly disappeared from the radar until Alan Dunn re-started it in 1996. The Tour was again held at Queen's Birthday Weekend and was slammed together in six weeks. Snow greeted the riders at the start in Winton that year and the tour start was moved north to Lumsden so that it would be safe to continue.
Gordon McCauley easily won that year and complained that a little bit of snow affected the distance of the race. The following year Alan moved the event to Easter Weekend and they raced in Autumn not Winter to most riders approval. That year the event was still two days with three stages up to Queenstown on Saturday followed by two stages on the Sunday, a stage race around Arrowtown and a criterium at Frankton.
1998 saw the event start in Queenstown and become a four day race with a Prologue up Fern Hill.
Starting in Queenstown made the event even more popular with riders getting away from the colder Southland conditions during Easter. That year the tour took in Cromwell for the first time and became the Cromwell-Queenstown Cycling Tour.
Cromwell is still a big part of this race and the race briefing and Prologue Time Trial are held their every year. The Tour de Lakes now travels into Fiordland taking in Five Rivers, Mossburn, Manapouri and Te Anau. The idea in travelling down and into Fiorland was to get away from traffic problems every two years caused by the War Birds over Wanaka Air Show.
Also introduced in recent years was the two stages in and out of Glenorchy with the tour finishing on the big climb up to Moke Lake. A dinner presentation and buffet meal are held at the conclusion of the event at Queenstown's Millennium Hotel where the original trophies are still presented. Names like Brian Fowler, Blair Stockwell, Glen McLeay and Triathlete Chris Gemmell show the class of rider to have won this event.
There are some other very special trophies awarded each year during racing. The sportsmanship award in memory of young Southland cyclist Stuart McLean brings a lump to my throat each year when it is presented.
The James Faulding Memorial Award for the first A Grade rider to cross the line in Glenorchy is eagerly contested. James was hit by a car while training in Dunedin a few weeks after competing with distinction in his first Tour de Lakes. James was a fine young man with a lot of talent.