Le Race Alive And Kicking In 2021
The Canterbury cycling classic Le Race is alive and kicking for its 22nd edition on March 20, despite major Covid 19 disruptions and two postponements in 2020 proving nearly fatal for this iconic race.
“More rational event organisers might have let the event die a quiet death, but I just could not let that happen on my watch,” says Le Race director Sheree Stevens.
The 100km race from Christchurch to Akaroa first had to be postponed a year ago due to the national lockdown, only days out from the March start date, and Stevens again had to disappoint the riders when Covid restrictions also torpedoed the postponed date in September.
“I felt like the cycling gods were against us, especially when Covid also pulled the rug from underneath us in September.
“After reorganising all our riders, contractors, volunteers, traffic plans to move to September, it was a massive kick in the guts to have to pull the pin again, especially for those riders who had to rebook their flight,” says Stevens.
The race organiser organiser admits that her mind went to some dark places during those week, like many of her colleagues in the events sector, but says that the support from riders and key sponsors gave her the courage to keep Le Race alive.
Stevens is blown away that over 750 riders from around New Zealand have already shown their support and will line up in Cathedral Square on March 20.
“And more riders are signing up every day now we seem to have survived the recent community infection scares in Auckland, but I was holding my breath when Auckland again went into lockdown last week,” says Stevens.
The field will again include a wide variety of riders, from some New Zealand top-class riders who are not able to compete overseas due to travel restrictions to the weekend warriors who have been training all year to take on the Port Hills climbs.
“It must have been frustrating for those riders who were primed to hit the hills last March to continue their motivation to keep training, but numbers around the same as where we were last year, so I am pleased we decided to carry on,” smiles Stevens.
“The New Zealand cycling calendar just wouldn’t be the same without Le Race.”