UCI accreditation has again followed the Gravel & Tar men’s event, and the Gravel and Tar La Femme as the 2020 edition of Oceania’s only UCI 1.2 race gets ready to roll in January.

Men’s teams are scrambling to attend the Gravel & Tar cycling race as they chase important points but the hunt is on for more women’s teams.

The international cycling body, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has once again rewarded the organisers of the cycling races their accreditation for the third consecutive year and as word gets out, a cap on team numbers may be enforced.

Now, in its 5th year, the men’s elite Gravel and Tar classic will be a UCI 1.2 race, meaning it will attract valuable UCI points for competing international and New Zealand teams.

The women’s event, the Gravel and Tar La Femme, in only its second year, and will also be classified as a UCI 1.2 level event. 

While there are more than 500 UCI road cycling events listed for 2020, the Gravel and Tar races being held on 25 January, will be the first single day UCI race in the world for the 2020 calendar year, and the only 1.2 level races in the Oceania and Australasian region.

From left to right: Ryan Christensen, Luke Mudgway and Cyrus Monk on the podium after the Gravel and Tar Classic 2019, photo Ed Wright/RoadCycling.co.nz

Race director Steve Stannard said the lack of other women’s cycling events in NZ was an obstacle to attendance.

“Essentially, we are asking women’s teams to fly over ahead of the Australian tours and race for one day and, while the points are extremely important, the women’s teams aren’t as flush as the men’s teams.”

Event organisers, the Greasy Chain Charitable Trust, added a women’s race last year to promote equality, which is also why equal prize money as the men was on offer.

“We have tried to get local and neighbouring cycle clubs to hold a criterium but to no avail. We feel we are doing our part and really need teams to step up and support the race,” Stannard said.

In the meantime, entries and enquiries were coming in for the men’s race from as far away as Sweden and Ireland, and are likely to give our best NZ cyclists a good challenge.

Palmerston North’s Luke Mudgeway, riding for Irish team EvoPro Cycling, was last year’s race winner, as was Australian, Brodie Chapman, riding for Oceania Women’s Cycling.

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