Cycle Classic field best in 32 years
The countdown is now well and truly underway for the 2019 Grassroots Trust New Zealand Cycle Classic, beginning in Cambridge next Wednesday.
Race director Jorge Sandoval says the field for the UCI2.2 five-stage elite men's cycle tour being staged entirely in the Waipa¯ region is the best he’s assembled.
“We’ve had some fantastic fields over the previous 31 years with riders coming from Europe, America, Asia and Australia, but I believe the 2019 field to be the best ever,” Sandoval says.
“We have 14 overseas teams, including riders from Australia, England, Ireland, Japan, Italy, Serbia, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands and some of the top riders from New Zealand taking part … it’s going to be fantastic.”
The New Zealand Cycle Classic celebrates its 32nd Anniversary this year and begins on Wednesday, January 23 and concludes five days later.
After being staged in the Wairarapa for the last three years, it will be staged entirely in and around the surrounds of Waipa¯ and will feature new race routes that will test all riders.
These include the opening stage which takes riders around Waipa¯ district, a stage from Cambridge to the spectacular Mighty River Domain at Karapiro, stage four that will see riders cycle twice up Maungakawa hill, and stage three starting and finishing in Te Awamutu on Friday, January 25.
The tour will culminate with eight laps completed around Cambridge.
Sandoval is predicting exciting racing from all teams.
Switzerland’s national pursuit cycling team is coming back to the event for the second time. The team is led by Lukas Ru¨ geg, the current national champion and winner of the King of the Mountains competition at the eight days 2018 Ra´s Tailteann international cycle tour in Ireland, and Thery Schir, who competed at the 2016 Olympic Games, finished fourth place in the Madison at the 2016 World Champs and recorded strong results in international tour of Portugal, Fleche Du Sud in the Netherlands and other events.
“This may be the Swiss track team but most of their success over the last few years has come at international stage races like our event, they are accomplish riders on the road as well as on the track. If there is a bunch finish in this year’s tour, I am sure some of these Swiss riders will be right amongst the leaders,” says Sandoval.
As well as the Swiss team, Sandoval also announced today the confirmation of 10 Australian teams.
The St George Continental team will be led by winner of the 2014 New Zealand Cycle Classic Michael Vink who is looking forward to the tour.
Sandoval is also thrilled to welcome back defending champion Hayden McCormick (Te Awamutu) and his teammate Joseph Cooper racing for Team BridgeLane, one of the most prominent teams racing on the Oceania circuit, and two Japanese teams making their debut in the tour.
He says their names have continued a long New Zealand Cycle Classic tradition of unearthing new talent or helping upand-coming riders step onto a bigger platform.
“We’ve had the likes of Julian Dean (ex Te Awamutu), Chris Jenner, Robbie McEwen and Hayden Roulston all claim the yellow jersey while many others have gone on to ride in the Tour de France. For me that is very rewarding,” says Sandoval, who came to New Zealand from Chile in 1976 as a political refugee and had to learn English before channelling all his energies into organising and growing this longstanding event.
“The Classic is now one of the biggest international cycle races in Oceania,” says Sandoval.
“Moving the tour to the Waikato was a hard thing to do but is the best for the event. I’ve been working really hard for the last 31 years to get the event where it is today and to ensure the people of New Zealand see a top cycling spectacle.
“Having the support of Brian Perry Charitable Trust, Grassroots Trust, Waipa¯ District Council among others, has been incredible. I look forward to seeing this event grow in importance in this region and receive increasing support within the local community.”
Being held simultaneously with the Grassroots New Zealand Cycle Classic is the Three Peaks Ride New Zealand’s Cycling Festival, a week-long festival encouraging people of all ages and stages of cycling to get out and ride more regularly.
These two events have been made possible thanks to the generous support from the Brian Perry Charitable Trust and the Waipa¯ District Council.
Te Awamutu Sports Cycling Club has been asked by the organisers to run the Opening Night Criterium on Tuesday, January 22 at St Peter's School in Cambridge - this will kick off the Festival and is an opportunity to not only ride the criterium but to meet all of the teams, both national and international, entered in the Grassroots Trust New Zealand Cycle Classic (which starts the next day).
There will be a great atmosphere with food trucks, Good George beer, music and much more, so bring along your picnic blanket and chairs and join in the fun.
The criterium is on a 2.5km course around the grounds of St Peter's and entry is only $10. Each grade is limited to the first 40 riders entered and there's even prizemoney.
To enter the Opening Night Criterium click on the link www.sporty.co.nz/ viewform/89813
The NZ Cycle Classic Team Presentation will take place at 7.30 pm, followed by the Criterium Prizegiving at 8.15 pm.
2019 Grassroots Trust New Zealand Cycle Classic Race director Jorge Sandoval at last year’s event held in the Wairarapa.