Busy sporting weekend in prospect

The thrilling finish of the 2019 GrapeRide. Photo Peter Jones

The return of the Whitehaven GrapeRide highlights a busy weekend of sport around the province.

The iconic cycling event, which started in 2005 with 698 participants, was postponed last year when Covid decimated the sporting landscape. But it is back on Saturday, cyclists from throughout the country putting a two-year hiatus behind them as they again take the opportunity to test their fitness and stretch their legs amid world-class scenery.

Over 1100 riders are expected to line up tomorrow, including a handy collection of so-called “Speed Bunnies” who will be out to claim the top placings.

Daniel Barry, Campbell Pithie, Ollie Jones, Michiel van Heyningen and Hunter Gough are just a few of the talented youngsters in line for the men’s prize, while former Olympian McIlroy and Sharlotte Lucas are hot prospects in the women’s race.

Defending Magnum champ Paul Odlin is back for another crack at the elusive five-hour target for the two-lap event, while local ultra-distance champ Craig Harper is always competitive.

A major change to the course from previous years is the situation of the start/finish line. Riders will begin and end their races at the Vines Village complex on Rapaura Rd. They previously finished at Forrest Estate Wines.

The GrapeRide once more offers a variety of courses from the Classic GrapeRide (101km), to the Magnum (202km), the Taster (42km) plus short (21km) and long (42km) mountainbike courses.

The Magnum field leave at 6am, with the remainder of the riders setting off from 8am. A kids race is also on offer this year, beginning at 1.30pm. E-bikes are welcome in all categories except the Magnum.

Rugby

The Tasman Trophy competition continues on Saturday, with the four Marlborough clubs still chasing their first victory. Barring another draw, that unhappy statistic will be put to rest at Lansdowne Park where Central take on the newly-formed Awatere/Moutere side at 3pm. The other Marlborough-based side in action is Renwick, who host Kahurangi at the Renwick Domain, also at 3pm. Waitohi have a bye.

In division two action, Pelorus host Waitohi in Havelock while Renwick play Awatere in Renwick. Both games kick off at 1.15pm.

Football

In the Nelson division one competition, Rangers AFC, who were defaulted to by FC Nelson Locomotive last weekend, travel to Wakefield to take on the home side. This is the third match in the pre-season grading series, with Rangers keen to go unbeaten into the forthcoming season.

On the home scene, in what is shaping as a very tight Mayfield Motorworld division one competition, Call Care Trojans play clubmates Call Care Hotspurs, Central Wolves meet Bottle-O BV Masters and Central Buccaneers play Rangers Development at A&P. All games are at A&P Park and kick off at 3pm.

In division two Rangers Clubs of Marlborough meet Rangers Masters and Redwood play Central Privateers, both at A&P Park at 1pm. The other match is in Picton, the home side hosting Spartans at 3pm.

On Monday, Rangers AFC step onto a bigger stage, hosting Mapua FC Rangers in the first preliminary round of the nationwide Chatham Cup competition. This match kicks off at 2.30pm at A&P Park.