JLT Condor, the UCI Continental outfit from the UK and soon-to-be former team of a certain Alex Frame, will return to the Wairarapa next month to contest the New Zealand Cycle Classic. Team manager John Herety, a former British road racing champion, is looking forward to bringing his team back to New Zealand to contest the UCI 2.2 five-stage Cycle Classic which begins on Wednesday 17th January with a 121km stage from Masterton to Alfredton and return.
“This will be the fourth time the team has come to the New Zealand Cycle Classic. It’s a race we really like and is a great way for us to start our 2018 season,” Herety said. “It feels like we’ve unfinished business at the NZ Cycle Classic. Whilst we’ve had a number of stage victories over the years, that final general classification win has always eluded us. The Wairarapa’s terrain and great roads coupled with the outstanding hospitality we receive from everyone in Masterton are a perfect way for us to kick start our season. Let’s hope this year we can finally make that top step,” says Herety.
Returning to New Zealand once again is Robert McCarthy from Ireland, a solid sprinter who demonstrated his potential in the elite ranks with stage wins in the Herald SunTour and the An Post Ras stage races.
Alistair Slater is a talented young rider who is developing a reputation for making breakaway moves from the bunch, will be a formidable force on flat stages. Rounding out the team are: Ian Bibby, also returning to the New Zealand Cycle Classic after a strong performance in 2017, Thomas Stuart and Mathew Gibson.
Kiwi Alex Frame, who featured heavily in the team’s stage races in 2017 won’t be returning to Wairarapa after he signed a two year deal with Trek-Segafredo.
As well as confirming JLT Condor’s attendance and the already announced Swiss national team, New Zealand Cycle Classic race director Jorge Sandoval also confirmed two Australian teams have been confirmed for the tour. They are Oliver’s Real Food Racing and the Mobius Future Racing team, both teams being registered as UCI continental teams for the 2018 season who have competed in the Wairarapa before.
The New Zealand Cycle Classic is recognised as the premier international road cycling event in this country and has developed a reputation for unearthing new talent, with many of riders having gone on to win stages in the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, as well as world championship titles. In 2018 it will be held in the Wairarapa from January 17th – 21st with more riders coming from around the world. These teams will be announced in the coming weeks as will confirmation about whether 2017 Tour winner Joseph Cooper will defend his title.
The five-stage tour features two new routes that weave through Wairarapa’s rolling country side and will also see the team’s presentation held in a festive evening setting on Tuesday, 16th January in Masterton.
Being held simultaneously, is Huri Huri a series of community based cycling events designed to celebrate the Wairarapa’s bike-friendly roads, tracks and trails; the people that ride on them and the bikes they ride. These include: an opportunity to explore the historic Castlepoint Station by bike along three different coastal tracks on Saturday, 20th January and a fun, family friendly evening at Mitre 10 Mega Masterton on Tuesday, 16th February. This promotional evening will include a freestyle BMX display; fun cycle obstacle course for children; a free barbecue and a promotional circuit ride for club riders. The elite teams will also ride the same Criterium circuit enabling spectators to get a taste of what exciting, international racing will unfold in the coming days.