New Zealand’s premier cycling event returns to Wairarapa
Race Director Jorge Sandoval is returning his five-day, international elite men’s road race, the New Zealand Cycle Classic to its Masterton base in 2020. The Tour is the only Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) 2.2 event held in Oceania and was staged in the Wairarapa between 2016-2018.
Sandoval was approached and invited to stage the 2019 event in the Waipa District and run in conjunction with a cycling festival, in first instance for at least three years but in the end didn’t work for Sandoval and the New Zealand Cycle Classic.
“Taking the New Zealand Cycle Classic to the Waipa region in 2019 look like it was a great addition but in reality was not. A number of issues that escalated in the weeks prior to the tour really made up my mind to come back to Wairarapa as soon as possible, I feel the variety of challenging roads here in Wairarapa is better suited to this Tour.
"I'm really looking forward to next year's race in Wairarapa because, to be honest, we should have never moved it away from here. I had a go in the Waikato, but it didn't take me long to realise it wasn’t going to work, among other issues, the region there was not suitable for a five-day stage race, we struggle to find a hill for the King of the Mountains competition for the first three days, was embarrassing really for a race of this stature.” he says."
“In the past, riders and their team managers have enjoyed racing in Wairarapa commenting on the quality of the stages and the warm hospitality. They’ve also enjoyed being based at the one location, the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park, for the duration of their stay allowing the riders to focus solely on the racing.”
Mr Sandoval has been talking with stakeholders, Trust House, the Wairarapa’s three Councils and potential sponsors to seek their support in hosting the event again in 2020. He sees multiple benefits for the region including increased media exposure, community engagement and increased visitation.
“This event will bring riders of the highest calibre here for over a week and along with them their entourage of bike mechanics, health professionals, supporters and media. This will generate a sense of pride for our community to be part of something on the international cycling calendar. It will also inspire our community to come out and watch the Tour and ideally become involved in the sport of cycling in greater numbers as a rider, volunteer or official.”
Local participation will also be a big focus with the community and fun events planned around the event under the Huri Huri Bike Wairarapa umbrella.
“This Tour takes riders through many Wairarapa townships and past many landmarks giving maximum opportunity for media coverage and for our entire community to be involved. Over the years it’s been staged here, there’s been a noticeable increase in large groups of spectators out with their colourful signs supporting the riders as they hurtle along Masterton -Stronvar Rd, Millars Road in Gladstone and along Puruatanga Road in Martinborough and a growing appetite for events staged as part of Huri Huri.”
Bit of background on the New Zealand Cycle Classic:
• The New Zealand Cycle Classic has been an annual sporting fixture for the past 32 years and is recognised as the premier international road cycling event in New Zealand.
• Originally run as the two-day Angus Inn Cycle Classic in 1988, throughout its evolution, the NZ Cycle Classic has become internationally recognised as the Tour which unearths new talent with previous winners going onto even greater success on the world stage.
• It enables riders to gain valuable UCI points and catch the eye of professional teams looking for the “next big thing”. It also provides NZ riders with a chance to race competitively over five days with elite international riders.
• In 2019, 15 international teams took part including, for the first time ever, two teams from Japan. Over the years, riders have come from Canada, Taiwan, Wales, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Spain, USA, Mongolia, Uruguay and England while the best riders from New Zealand have taken part.
• In 2020, the New Zealand Cycle Classic will celebrate its 33rd anniversary. Again, it will be organised and administered by Jorge Sandoval MNZM with the support of a voluntary organisation of over 60 people.