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Landslide Forces Race Route Change
14 Nov, 2011
Continued landsides in the Manawatu Gorge has forced race director Jorge Sandoval to dramatically change stage two in the New Zealand Cycle Classic Tour of Manawatu from January 25-29, 2012.

With the gorge closed, traffic now diverted over the Saddle Road, and uncertainty over when the gorge will be open, Sandoval has had to scrap plans to use the road as a key part of the stage on January 26. To have done so would have required Saddle Road to have been closed for four hours that day to ensure the safety of the riders, which was clearly out of the question given the road’s increased importance to the region.

A top of the mountain finish was to have been a feature of the classic, and instead Sandoval has come up with a much stiffer assignment. The new stage two up Vinegar Hill includes a greater number of climbs and to a higher altitude, with the riders having to twice reach 470 metres above sea level.

The change has convinced Sandoval that stages two and three will be crucial to who is to become the overall victor. Stage three contains nine climbs, some of them up to 505 metres, and over the two days there will be 41 kms when the riders are grinding skywards.

“Whoever is in control after stage three will be looking good to take the overall title,” Sandoval said. “The field is likely to still be close together heading into the stage but by bedtime it will probably have been torn apart.”

This will be the 25th edition of the classic, and is occurring in its new location with the support of the Palmerston North City Council and Sport Manawatu. The Tour of Manawatu was once one of the major tours in New Zealand, and it holds even greater status now with it being a 2.2 UCI sanctioned event, the only one of its kind in the country.

The classic will showcase the Manawatu region with the tour to appear on television at home and abroad.

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