As the Wairarapa gears up to host the 2020 New Zealand Cycle Classic, race director Jorge Sandoval has unveiled all five stage routes including “a new twist on an old favourite”.

The five-stage elite international men’s road cycling race is the only Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) sanctioned stage race to be held in New Zealand next year and will take place entirely in the Wairarapa, a region located just over an hour from Wellington, from January 15th – 19th

Mr Sandoval says the NZ Cycle Classic will feature five exciting days of racing around the townships of Masterton, Carterton and Martinborough as well as on roads that pass through rolling rural countryside and vineyards.  But he also says that changes to stage four – known as the Queen Stage – will test all riders to their maximum.

“Stage four of the New Zealand Cycle Classic is renowned for its hills and testing riders with a steep hilltop finish. In 2020, I’m putting a new twist on an old favourite by making it even more challenging adding extra hill climbs before the famous Admiral Hill finish which sees riders climb a total of 2784 meters of altitude,” says Mr Sandoval. 

“Admiral Hill is feared by some riders and revered by others, but in some past Tours the rider who wins this stage has gone onto win the overall Tour.”

Stage four will see riders start in Masterton and head towards Gladstone before turning left up the 7km Te Wharau Hill to complete three laps of a 43km circuit comprising of Te Wharau, Wainuiorou and Limeworks hills. Mr Sandoval says each of these circuits will require concentration both uphill and downhill with riders expected to reach speeds up to 100km/h racing down the steep side of Te Wharau. He says the 178km stage will be the longest and toughest in the NZ Cycle Classic’s 33-year history.

The NZ Cycle Classic begins on Wednesday, 15th January with a 120 km stage taking riders north of Masterton towards Eketahuna and back before a small hill climb sees them finish outside the Masterton Golf Club in Lansdowne.  

“This is a relatively short, fast 122km stage that could take place in very hot conditions. It will be crucial to any rider who is trying to take the Tour victory to be in the best position possible before embarking on the 2km uphill finish,” says Mr Sandoval. “This is a new finish area for the Tour and will conclude at the Masterton Golf Club, the home of golfing great Sir Bob Charles. It will also be a great opportunity for residents in the area to come out and cheer the riders as they zoom past their front doors towards the finish line.”

The Tour continues on day two with riders making a return loop from Masterton to Gladstone, while stage three will be held around the pretty wine village of Martinborough.  The Tour culminates with riders completing 12 laps of a 10km circuit around a residential area near Mitre 10 Mega in Masterton.

Mr Sandoval is looking forward to announcing the teams that will take part in Tour next month. He has hinted there will be several international teams taking part as well as a quality field of New Zealand riders. Mr Sandoval is also hopeful defending champion Aaron Gate (Evo Pro Racing team) will attend next year’s tour.

Being held simultaneously with the NZ Cycle Classic will be a series of community events that celebrate the Wairarapa’s bike-friendly roads, tracks and trails; the people that ride on them and the bikes they ride with. 

“Having the New Zealand Cycle Classic and these community events held simultaneously will give the community a chance to see some of the world’s best riders in action and provide them with opportunities to get out on their own bikes and discover the Wairarapa one road at a time,” says Mr Sandoval.

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.

“My team and I are very grateful for all the support from our sponsors and key stakeholders and together look forward to making this New Zealand’s biggest international cycle tour,” says Mr Sandoval.

Photo: Dave Lintott / lintottphoto.co.nz

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