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Technology triumphed over tradition at the opening of the Lake Dunstan Cycle and Walking Trail on Saturday.

Rangi Wharepapa, of Dunedin, was first to cross the line on pedal power alone, but e-bikes had left him in the dust.

One rider embracing the e-bike was Brian Thomson, of Clyde, who was first to finish the trail.

While it was not a race, Mr Thomson was basking in a sense of personal victory.

He completed the Clyde to Cromwell leg of the long-awaited trail less than two hours after pedalling off from Clyde.

“Wait until I get a few drinks in me, then it will be the World Cup,” he said.

Mr Thomson, a lifelong cyclist, said the trail was the “best track I’ve ever ridden and I’ve ridden a few”.

He described the track as “challenging” with sharp turns and downhills that occasionally stripped him of his position at the front of the pack.

As well as the trail, he praised his wheels.

“E-bikes are the greatest thing invented,” he said.

Close behind Mr Thomson was another keen cyclist, Murray Kennedy, of Pisa Moorings.

The trail was great and by far the best among the Central Otago network of Great Rides in terms of the condition of the trail itself and the variety of scenery, Mr Kennedy said.

Third to complete the trail was Alan Bell, of Cromwell, who managed to pass Mr Thomson on bends and downhills before surrendering the lead back to him on the flat.

Earlier in the day, up to 300 cyclists, runners and walkers had gathered in Lodge Ln in Clyde for the trail’s public opening.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean cut the ribbon and sent off the first pack of 20 official riders, 10 selected by ballot and 10 riders who had helped with the trail’s construction.

The public opening followed a ceremony on Friday at Carrick Winery, near Bannockburn, to celebrate the opening of the newest addition to Central Otago’s cycle trail network.

After a blessing, Central Otago Queenstown Trails Trust patron Sir Eion Edgar, and his wife Lady Jan Edgar cut the ribbon, alongside Minster of Tourism Stuart Nash.

Construction of the Lake Dunstan Cycle and Walking Trail began in May 2019. It stretches 58km from Smiths Way, Mount Pisa, through Cromwell, near to Bannockburn, around Cornish Point, and along Lake Dunstan before finishing in Clyde.

The trail offers cyclists and walkers an easy ride through the distinctivelandscapes characteristic of Central Otago.

The total cost of construction was $7million, funded by central government, the Central Lakes Trust and Otago Community Trust.