Obituary: Farewell to Whanganui national champion cyclist Geoff Lankow

Whanganui has lost its most successful male road cyclist with the death of Geoff Lankow in the Wairarapa.

Terence Geoffrey Lankow died on Thursday in Wharekaka, Martinborough, age 85.

Lankow won the New Zealand elite men’s road cycling championship in Mosgiel in the 1965-66 season, a period when the country possessed some fine riders including champions Warwick Dalton, Dick Johnstone, Laurie Byres, and Lance Payne.

The Whanganui rider was one of earliest multiple time winners of the Auckland-Wellington six-day tour, claiming the title in 1955 and 1957 when it was sponsored by Wisemans.

The tour later became the Dulux race with a number of top local riders competing over the years.

Lankow, was always a super fit rider who won races, tours and centre titles all around the country, and had been a very strong contender to join Warwick Dalton for inclusion in the New Zealand team for the Rome Olympic Games in 1960, but missed selection.

He made sizable breaks on the field in the hilly stages between Waikato and New Plymouth to win his two North Island six-day tour titles.

After moving to the Wellington area and riding with success, Lankow settled in Martinborough in 2000 and became a prominent Wairarapa age grade rider and race organiser.

His all-ages fun rides raised more than $200,000 for the Volunteer Fire Brigade and Wairarapa Order of St. John.

Lankow's Martinborough Fun Rides raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the local fire brigade and St Johns.
Lankow’s Martinborough Fun Rides raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the local fire brigade and St Johns.

He competed successfully in a number of New Zealand Masters Games age grade road races and time trials, and held several national age grade records including a NZ 40km time trial record on the Gladstone course in the Wairarapa in 1993.

Other than cycling, Lankow was a talented all-round sportsman including at tennis, in which he competed at the NZ Masters Games in Whanganui.

A private cremation service with family was held in Masterton, and prominent Whanganui cycling official Ron Cheatley will speak at Geoff’s memorial service in Martinborough this Wednesday.

He is survived by wife Janet, brother and sister-in-law Jim and Sue Upston, and his nephews and nieces Tim and Gabrielle Upston, Kate Upston and Nick Bryan, Nige and Becky Upston, and their families.

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