The NZ Cycle Classic is a key event on the UCI calendar as the only UCI 2.2 stage race to bring together the best of Oceania. It is a real showcase for the champions of tomorrow.
Established in 1988 by Jorge Sandoval, the tour has remained faithful to its original purpose over the decades: to discover talent and offer a first major experience of top-level stage racing to generations of riders.
Among the famous names counting the New Zealand Cycle Classic as one of their first major victories are Robbie McEwen, who won in 1995, only a few years before success in the Tour de France and other world class events; Julian Dean 1999, Chris Jenner in 2001, Matthew Lloyd in 2005, Hayden Roulston in 2006, Travis Meyer in 2008 George Bennett in 2011 and Jay McCarthy in 2012.
Over the years, riders from all continents have lined up at the start as potential winners. Many of them have gone on to brilliant careers in professional cycling. The New Zealand Cycle Classic (or Tour of Wellington as it was known until 2012) became a UCI event for the first time in 1997.
Here is a list of some of the riders who have gone on from the New Zealand Cycle Classic to experience success at the highest professional level.
Robbie McEwen (Australia)
Winner of the 1995 Tour of Wellington
Participated in the Tour de France 12 times, he had 12 stage wins and three times winner of the points classification of the Tour de France (2002, 2004 and 2006).
Julian Dean (New Zealand)
Winner of the 1999 Tour of Wellington
Participated in eight Tours de France, five Tours of Italy and three times in the Tour of Spain.
Brendon Vesty (New Zealand)
Winner of the 2000 Tour of Wellington
Went to join the German Nurberger Pro team and later the USA Navigators Pro team.
Chris Jenner (New Zealand)
Winner of the 2001 Tour of Wellington
Went to ride professionally for French team Credit Agricole for six years. Until 2009 Chris Jenner remained the only Kiwi cyclist to have won a stage at the Tour de France a team time trial with Credit Agricole in his only tour, back in 2001.
Eric Wohlberg (Canada)
Winner of the 1995 Tour of Wellington
Multi race winner in America and Europe.
Matthew Lloyd (Australia)
Winner of the 2005 Tour of Wellington
King of the Mountains winner Giro de Italia 2010, participated in 4 Giro de Italia, three Tours de France and two Tours of Spain.
Hayden Roulston (New Zealand)
Winner of the 2006 - 2007 Tours of Wellington
Pro since 2009 with Cervelo, Team HTC(2010) currently with Radio Shack.
Richie Porte (Australia)
Come to the tour twice (2007 and 2008)
Signed pro with Praties in 2008 and later with Team Saxo Bank and in 2012 with Team Sky, Winner 2013 Tour if Italy.
Travis Meyer (Australia)
Winner of the 2008 Tour of Wellington
Signed pro in 2010 with Garmin-Transitions and later with Green Edge, Rode Tour de France 2013 and Tour of Spain 2012.
Michael Torckler (New Zealand)
Winner of the 2010 Tour of Wellington
Signed with American Bissel Pro cycling team
George Bennet (New Zealand)
Winner of the 2011 Tour of Wellington
Some year signed with Trek Livestrong and a year later with Team RadioShack-Leopard.
Steele Von Hoff (Australia)
7th in the 2011 Tour of Wellington, the following year signed with Garmin-Sharp.
Jay McCarthy (Australia)
Winner of the 2012 NZ Cycle Classic Tour of Manawatu
Won the 2012 tour and went straight to the Pro tour team Saxo-Tinkoff.
Nathan Earle (Australia)
Winner of the 2013 NZ Cycle ClassicTour of Manawatu
Sign a few months later by Sky Procycling team.
Campell Flakemore (Australia)
Stage winner in 2012, finish 3rd on final GC – World ITT U23 champion in 2014
Signed by BMC for 2015.
Ben O'Connor (Australia)
Winner of the 2016 NZ Cycle Classic with Avanti team, ten months later signed with Pro tour Team Dimension Data.
Past Tour Winners
1988 Darien Rush
1989 Brian Fowler
1990 Brian Fowler
1991 Brian Fowler
1992 Brian Fowler
1993 Clark Richards
1994 Ric Reid
1995 Robbie McEwen
1996 Ric Reid
1997 Corey Sweet
1998 Hayden Bradbury
1999 Julian Dean – US Postal
2000 Brendon Vesty
2001 Chris Jenner – Credit Agricole
2002 Robin Reid
2003 Matthew Yates
2004 Eric Wohlberg - Canada
2005 Mathew Lloyd – Australia AIS
2006 Hayden Roulston
2007 Hayden Roulston
2008 Travis Meyer – Australia AIS
2009 Peter MacDonald – Australia
2010 Michael Torckler
2011 George Bennett
2012 Jay McCarthy – Australia
2013 Nathan Earle - Australia
2014 Michael Vink - New Zealand
2015 Taylor Gunman - New Zealand
2016 Ben O'Connor - Australia