New Zealand’s ground breaking Pure Black Racing are the latest entry for the Armstrong Motor Group Festival of Cycling.
Held for the first time in 2005, the Armstrong Motor Group Festival of Cycling brings together the many sides of cycling for a weekend long celebration that sees Olympic champions rubbing shoulders with recreational riders, kids and keen club cyclists across every cycling option from road to mountain bikes and BMX.
Festivities kick-off on Saturday December 3rd with the 90k Waipara Challenge road ride where Pure Black Racing will be looking to show their dominance. Established in 2010, the all-Kiwi team surprised onlookers this year with a standout out rookie season on the American circuit. For the Armstrong Motor Group Festival of Cycling they will be sending a strong team of professional riders Daniel Barry (Chch), James McCoy (Chch), James Williamson (Alex) and Mike Northey (Akld), while teenage development rider Dion Smith (Akld) will be looking forward to another outing with the big boys.
All five riders line up at the Armstrong Motor Group Festival of Cycling with fine recent form. Waipara’s figure-8 course will include the satellite towns of Greta Valley, Scargill, Waikari, Harwarden and the historic Weka Pass.The rolling route will suit strong all rounders like Barry and Williamson, who both shone on the U.S scene this year.
Barry, in his first year as a professional, scored a stage win at Pennsylvania’s prestigious Tour de Toona and recently won the prestigious 100th anniversary Round the Mountain race in New Plymouth. Williamson had several top-10 finishes on the US circuit, with a highlight of sixth place at the Philadelphia Classic, the USA’s premier one-day race. But with a five-strong squad, whoever they choose as the leader for the day will be the best supported rider on the road.
As well as the 90k road cycle, Waipara activities will also feature the Frog Rock mountain bike ride and the Benchmark Homes Junior Challenge, where hundreds of kids aged eight to 13 will take in a fun 12k on safe and scenic roads behind Waipara Township.
On Sunday December 4th the action moves back to Christchurch for the Armstrong Motor Group City Criterium, which this year brings an exciting taste of Euro-style racing to Canterbury University.
Past winners of the City Criterium have included world champions Greg Henderson and Katie MacTier, 2010 US number one Cath Cheatley and Commonwealth Games medalists Mark Ryan and Westley Gough. Pure Black Racing, however, have also tasted success at the City Criterium and they’ll be looking to put Auckland’s Mike Northey back on the top step of the podium again.
In the 2010 Armstrong Motor Group City Criterium, just a month after announcing their new team, Northey and his Pure Black teammates surprised onlookers when they outfoxed riders such as World Cup medallist Tom Scully and Commonwealth medallist Mark Ryan. Northey has since emerged as one of New Zealand road cyclings best finishers, his highlights this year including a win in the St Louis NRC Criterium and the sprint ace title at California’s San Dimas Stage Race.
But Pure Black’s entire squad for the Armstrong Motor Group Festival of Cycling are all more than capable of handling the cut-throat criterium format with a good turn of finishing speed. This provides them with a myriad of tactical options, so despite no longer being the surprise package of New Zealand cycling, Pure Black Racing will still have the element of surprise.