Cy­cle Clas­sic field best in 32 years

Waipa Post - - Sport -

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 view­form/89813

The NZ Cy­cle Clas­sic Team Pre­sen­ta­tion will take place at 7.30 pm, fol­lowed by the Cri­terium Prize­giv­ing at 8.15 pm.

Photo / Dave Lin­tott/Lin­

2019 Grass­roots Trust New Zealand Cy­cle Clas­sic Race direc­tor Jorge San­doval at last year’s event held in the Wairarapa.

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