The Vantage Elite & U23 Road National Championshipsare moving further north, with Cambridge confirmed as the new host of New Zealand’s premier cycling event after a successful four-year tenure in the Hawkes Bay.
The championships will be the new flagship event of the RIDE: New Zealand’s Cycling Festival, which runs from 13 – 16 February in Waipā, featuring both top-level competition and a range of community and participation-driven cycling events.
Cycling New Zealand and RIDE Festival organisers have committed to a three-year term with the option to extend for a further year. Cycling New Zealand CEO Jacques Landry said it was important for the integrity of the competition to head to a new destination after a three or four year period.
“Changing the location means national titles are contested on a new course, on different terrain, ensuring variety and a fair approach that doesn’t favour one type of rider over another in the long term. It reinvigorates the event for the riders, and also exposes a whole new audience to top level road cycling as our most talented road riders battle it out for national jerseys,” he said.
The championships will include time trial and road races with full event details, including course details and the official race schedule due to be released in the coming months.
The shift in date from the traditional first weekend in January to mid-February comes after extensive consultation with professional and domestic riders, coaches and officials, and is fully supported by the Road and Track Council.
“This is a great step for riders like myself, with the professional season now being so long, said Team Jumbo-Visma professional, George Bennett. “Preparation for a National Championship so early in the New Year wasn’t ideal. Early January is the only time we get to spend with our families and friends in New Zealand which is more important than anything so we [World Tour riders] are all behind this change. It’s great to see a new host step up as well.”
The new date gives domestic and world tour riders the opportunity to gain race fitness in key national and UCI events that take place in January across New Zealand and Australia, before contesting national titles.
“Ultimately, we anticipate the new date will enable the strongest possible field of primed riders to be on the start line for Elite Roads. Partnering with RIDE Festival allows us to host the Vantage Elite & U23 Road National Championships as part of a wider celebration of cycling that connects with the community and inspires people to get out and ride their bikes more often,” said Landry.
As the headline event of the Hawkes Bay Summer Cycling Carnival, the national championships gained a strong following and support from the community and local council. Cycling New Zealand gratefully acknowledges the many volunteers, businesses and supporters that enabled an event of this size to be a success in Napier. It is confident that with the support of Waipa District Council, the team from RIDE Festival will produce an event that will capitalise on the momentum and reputation that the championships have built in Napier and before that in Christchurch.
RIDE Festival Chair, Simon Perry, said the festival is delighted to be to be given the opportunity to host the Vantage Elite & U23 Road National Championships.
“We feel that the event aligns perfectly with our own objectives by showcasing the best of New Zealand cycling to engage and inspire New Zealanders. We look forward to delivering the event as part of the wider festival which will offer a range of events for spectators, community engagement and recreational cyclists alike.”
Waipā and the wider Waikato region is known for its road riding as well as cycling trails and infrastructure. The region’s active road cycling community are kept busy with a number of community cycling events throughout the year and Cambridge itself is a widely accessible destination for many New Zealand cyclists and fans.
Waipa District Council Mayor, Jim Mylchreest is excited to welcome the event to his district.
“Waipā hosts many world-class and national events that bring huge benefits to our communities and contribute to such a great lifestyle. We’ve got a proud tradition of raising and nurturing world-class sports people and it’s fantastic for the young people in our community to see these talented athletes in action as part of this outstanding event.”
Further details about the event will be released in the coming months.