In the early 2000s cycle racing in New Zealand was divided into four disciplines:
- road racing on sealed roads
- track racing in velodromes
- bicycle motocross (BMX) racing on purpose-built tracks
- mountain bike (MTB) racing on off-road tracks.
Many riders specialise in a single code, but it is not unusual for road riders to also be track riders, and vice versa. Sometimes riders begin in one code and move to another.
Common interests and goals between the codes led, in 2003, to the creation of Bike New Zealand (BikeNZ), which is affiliated to the International Cycling Union (UCI). BikeNZ acts as an umbrella and advocacy body for national bike and cycling organisations, such as: BMX NZ, BikeNZ Road and Track, Mountain Bike NZ and BikeNZ Schools. These national bodies are made up of local clubs and schools, most of which run regular competitive events as well as local, regional and national championships under UCI rules. A competitor has to belong to a club or school to get a racing licence. In 2012 there were about 50 road and track clubs, 30 MTB clubs and 40 BMX clubs, and 7,000 licensed competitive cyclists in New Zealand.
Ethan Mitchell, aged 21, competed at the 2012 Olympics and was one of the fastest sprinters in the world. His training included working out on a specially built erg – a stationary one wheeled bicycle – which had a bucket permanently attached to the side for throwing up in.
High performance programme
In 2012 cycling was one of nine sports funded by High Performance Sport New Zealand, a government agency that backs elite athletes with potential to excel in their field. BikeNZ’s high performance programme had 61 riders and 21 staff. Its aim was to deliver four medals at the 2012 London Olympic Games. It achieved three.
Developing future champions
BikeNZ’s 2011 strategic plan aimed to increase New Zealanders’ participation in cycling, develop talented racing cyclists and enable more of them to win on the world stage. It called for a more coordinated approach to junior advancement and greater support and infrastructure for high-performance cyclists. In 2013 a centre of excellence to provide a development base for all cycling codes opened in Cambridge.