Corbin Strong is aiming to become the first Southlander in 30 years to take out the SBS Bank Tour of Southland cycling race this weekend.
The 20-year-old never got to properly celebrate his move into ‘elite’ cycling after winning a points race in Berlin at the World Track Cycling Championships earlier this year.
It was the first time a male New Zealand rider has won a points race world championship, and shortly after, he had to fly home to go into lockdown.
Three former Tour of Southland winners are taking part in this year’s race – Michael Vink (2018, 2019), Aaron Gate (2016), James Oram (2013), and Corbin said it was one of the better fields he has seen.
“It’s a race that means a lot to me,” Corbin said.
With lockdown spent inside training in Cambridge, where he is based at High Performance Sport NZ, there have been no racing for the competitors in the build up to the SBS Tour of Southland.
“It has been a real non-eventful year,” he said.
This will be his third Tour of Southland and possibly one of the hardest, with the new course including a big climb up The Remarkables.
“It’s a very hard climb – a lot harder than Coronet and almost twice as long,” he said.
Race director Sally Marr said they didn’t make changes to the route of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland too often, “however The Remarkables is a climb the tour has had its eye on for a number of years.
‘It is only fairly recently that it was paved sufficiently far up the climb to make it a viable option for the tour, and with The Remarkables being such an iconic mountain range it is the perfect fit for an iconic event.”
She said the climb itself was also more challenging than any they have used in the tour before, and was sure to become part of the legend of the SBS Bank Tour of Southland.