While the New Zealand Cycle Classic is set to get a location-shift next year, heading to the Waikato, racing in the beloved Wairarapa is set to continue.
Jorge Sandoval knows the impact of the New Zealand Cycle Classic on the Wairarapa region. So much has changed in 31 years of the event, and it’s with sadness that the race bids adieu to the country’s premier stage race. “They are very disappointed that the race had to move out of there for obvious reasons, economically, in terms of publicity and what the race generates in the region, but they also understand that the race has to grow,” Jorge told RoadCycling.
But where does this leave the Wairarapa from here? One thing Jorge has been very determined on is that the region should still host a top flight bike race and he has the plan in place for an event that will sit perfectly between the Santos Women’s Tour and Herald Sun Tour. “We’ve got a plan to do a Women’s Tour because what happens now – I’ve been talking to the Australian promoters – there’s a bunch of about 60 overseas women from Australia and Europe and America. They rode the Tour Down Under which is a four-day Women’s Tour, but from then on they’ve got nothing until Herald Sun Tour which is at the end of this month,” Jorge said.
“So that’s a huge gap in between to get all those women into New Zealand. So we would create a 5-day Tour, a Women’s Tour, and I’m sure we’d get all of them. I’ve done a number of Women’s Tours in the past and the quality of riders is huge, because some of the best riders in the world come to New Zealand in women’s teams.”
“The Women’s Tour will bring the same benefit if not more than what the Men’s Tour brought.”
While the Women’s Tour plans continue to be finalised, Jorge’s plans to introduce the event back to the Wairarapa coincide with a revolution in the cycling culture that has taken place in the region. The public perception of the race, and the receptivity of the community has been outstanding, and Jorge is determined to continue this growth in the Wairarapa. “It’s really amazing to see farmers waiting to see when the race is going to pass outside their gates. In this year’s race there were complete families outside of the circuit for the whole day, 120km, in so many different places around the circuit I’ve never seen such a thing. The community learn about the race, they’re welcoming to the riders and they come out and support. The community got behind the race, and unfortunately we have to move out of there, but like I said, the Women’s Tour will carry on with this.”
We look forward to hearing what’s to come in the next chapter of stage race cycling in the Wairarapa and we will keep you informed of developments of the Women’s Tour.