With just four weeks to go until the 2020 New Zealand Cycle Classic, race director Jorge Sandoval is preparing for an invasion of top Australian cyclists.
Sandoval says six Australian based teams will contest the five-stage elite international men’s road cycling race
Being staged in the Wairarapa from January 15th – 19th, the Tour is the only Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) 2.2 sanctioned race to be held in New Zealand in 2020 and is being raced just over an hour’s drive from Wellington, New Zealand’s Capital City.
Sandoval has confirmed that Australian based teams coming are: Team BridgeLane Continental Cycling team, Oliver’s Real Food Racing, St George Continental Cycling Team, Futuro Pro Cycling, Velofit Australia and Cycle House Racing team.
“It’s shaping up to be an exciting field,” says Sandoval. “In addition to the five international teams I’ve already announced, I’m thrilled that six Australian based teams will contest the 2020 New Zealand Cycle Classic. This includes several teams who have been here before like Oliver’s Real Food Racing, a UCI Continental road cycling team, who have raced this event five times previously and in 2019 won a stage and finished second place overall. Also, several Australian riders will be represented in the other teams while several Kiwis will be racing for the Australian teams.”
Sam Layzell, Oliver’s Real Food Racing General Manager isexcited to be returning to the New Zealand Cycle Classic in 2020.
“The race has such a rich history, and we are honoured that our team has had the opportunity to be a small part of that history,” says Sam. “Our first ever UCI podium came at this event, our first ever UCI jersey win came at this event, our first ever UCI victory as a UCI Continental team came at this race, on our very first day competing as a UCI Continental team. So yes, it holds a special place for us, especially the Wairarapa region, and it really is thrilling that the race will be returning there for 2020…although I think some of the riders will be less thrilled when they are on their third rep of Te Wharau Hill on stage four.”
Oliver’s Racing has always enjoyed great success in New Zealand with a roster of both New Zealand and Australian riders. In 2016 Ryan Christensen won the King of the Mountains jersey; in 2017 Logan Griffin won Best Young Rider jersey, in 2018 Nick Reddish won Stage 1 and held the yellow jersey for three days and 2019 Jesse Featonby won stage 4 and took second place overall.
Since then Oliver’s has notched up 12 victories including a victory at L’Etape Australia for Campbell Jones, who also competed at this year’s New Zealand Cycle Classic when it was held in the Waipa.
While Oliver’s has yet to announce its roster for 2020, Sam says they have recruited well and will announce signings soon. In the meantime, his experience here will help prepare his riders for what is expected to be a challenging five days in the saddle.
“It certainly is a tough course, but one thing it certainly will ensure is an exciting race, especially if we get some of those famous Wairarapa crosswinds! “ he says.
“I’ve known Jorge now for many years thanks to our team returning each year since 2016, and I know he always sets a course with “the show” in mind. I recall many times over the years seeing him excited during the racing at the spectacle he has created. Thanks to Jorge there will always be three things you can count on at the New Zealand Cycle Classic: a tough course, a thrilling and close finish, and a very deserving winner!”
St George manager Stuart Boyce says five New Zealand riders – including in-form Michael Vink who won the recent Tour of Southland and Dylan Kennett, will lineup alongside Australian Blake Quick. He says “on paper” the team is probably the strongest St George can field for an early season race, but the riders are super motivated to start off the season in a big way.
“This race is an important race for the team as it starts off the season and with a few new riders in the roster will quickly get the team working together,” says Stuart.
“The team has come from a fairly heavy workload towards the end of the 2019 season with Michael and Dylan having some great success and results in the racing. Michael is coming off a lighter workload over Christmas, however Dylan is also leading up to the Track Worlds so is building up his workload and looking forward to getting the road miles in at the NZ Classic.”
The 2020 NZ Cycle Classic is able to take place thanks to the generous support from Trust House, WBS, Mobile Communications Service, WIZwireless, Fagan Motors, Mitre 10 Mega Masterton and Lion Foundation plus all three Wairarapa District Councils.