For the first time in its 25 year history the UCI Men’s Cycle Classic Tour will be held in the Manawatu.
Formerly the Tour of Wellington, the five day event will be renamed the New Zealand Cycle Classic and is scheduled for 25-29 January 2012.
Race director, Jorge Sandoval says he is looking forward to reviving the Cycle Classic thanks to the support of Palmerston North City Council and Sport Manawatu.
“Earlier this year I took part of my international women’s tour of New Zealand to Palmerston North and the reaction was so positive that I started to investigate the possiblity of the men racing in the region as well.”
Sandoval says that the tour has grown to become one of the most important on the Oceania calendar.
“Riders from all around the world compete in this event and continue on to join the profesional ranks. Three past riders of the tour rode in this year’s Tour de France.”
“This is a great opportunity for cycling and the Manawatu region in general. I’m really excited by the change of environment, Manawatu is perfect for cycling at all levels and a new challenge for me.”
He is also looking at staging a teams’ time trial around Massey University.
Sport Manawatu’s CEO Mike Daisley says the Men’s tour combined with the host of cycling events that already operate in the region show that Manawatu really is the best place to ride a bike.
“We look forward to supporting this event which will give the community a chance to see some of the world’s best riders. We will also be looking to invite our local cyclists to take part in a fun ride as part of the event; riders will be able to ride on the same circuit ahead of the professional riders. Our aim is give everyone in our community a chance to participate.”
Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor says this is an exciting opportunity for the Manawatu.
"We know that our region is great for cycling and that’s reinforced by events like this which choose to come here. Both Palmerston North and the Manawatu region are really looking forward to hosting this prestigious event and will make the cyclists, support teams and spectators very welcome."
Originally Sandoval says he had hoped to mark 25 years of his Wellington tours with one stage on the streets of the capital. However, in recent times it has been restricted to a final stage criterium on Lambton Quay. With the UCI stipulating its tours can not end with a criterium Sandoval approached the Wellington City Council about having the final stage on the Miramar Peninsula.
“Feedback from the Wellington Council was that this was an unlikely option. This combined with my previous experience in the Manawatu led me to look at an alternative home for the event,” says Sandoval.
The event first ran as the Angus Inn Cycle Classic in 1988 and has evolved into the major international event it is today. It is the only UCI event in New Zealand for men’s racing.
Race Route for the 2012 New Zealand Cycle Classic
Wednesday 25th January 2012 –2.30pm
Stage One: ITT around Massey University – 8km
Thursday 26th January 2012 – 10.00am
Stage Two: Ashurst Circuit – stage finish Palmerston North – 131km
Friday 27th January 2012 – 10.00am
Stage Three: Palmerston North – Apiti via Pohangina Rd and return to Palmerston North – 164km
Saturday 28th January 2012- 10.00am
Stage Four: Palmerston North race – top of mountain finish top Saddle road – 143km
Sunday 29th January 2012 – 10.00am
Stage Five: Palmerston North – Ashhurst – Colyton – Bunnythopre – Palmerston North – 126km