The New Zealand Cycle Classic, the only Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) 2.2 accredited tour in the country will be held in Cambridge and surrounding areas from next year.
Expected to consist of five stages, the exact route for the tour will be decided by veteran race director, Jorge Sandoval, who will be scoping out options for the stages in March.
Jorge announced last Wednesday that he’d been offered a fresh start to move the five-day race, which this year attracted over 100 riders representing six nationalities, from Wairarapa to Waikato in 2019. Mr Sandoval said it was an amazing opportunity and allowed him to grow the race with the financial support required, with support from the Waikato-based Brian Perry Charitable Trust.
Amanda Till, who joined the Trust last week as event director for the cycling festival that will accompany the Cycle Classic, said the change in location came about as a result of a dinner conversation between Jorge and the Perry Trust’s chair Simon Perry. At that dinner, Simon apparently asked Jorge how he might go about getting the event to Cambridge. Jorge said it was the first time anyone had asked that, and with the backing of the Brian Perry Trust the move has now gone from an idea to reality.
With a working title of ‘Waipa Wheelfest,’ Amanda said the cycle festival and race will provide a major boost for the Cambridge economy, attracting spectators in addition to the teams taking part. There’s plenty of exciting options for stages in the area, Amanda said, so it will just be a case of Jorge picking his favourites. “You’ve got a little bit of everything within a 75km radius (of Cambridge),” she said, with plenty of road cycling up Maungakawa and French Pass Rd and around Te Awamutu.
There are also strict UCI guidelines that need to be met before the race can go ahead, with a 365-page handbook that needs to be satisfied. Fortunately, Jorge has a solid track record after 31 years of running the Wairapapa event, so he understands what is required, Amanda said, “because if you are not a good event organiser, you will get declined.”
It will be a logistical challenge to decide on a date for the five-day event, as it has to work in with not only the international cycling calendar but also with other events happening in Cambridge at the same time. “We’re just in the planning process,” Amanda explained, “but I would expect it will be held in the first part of next year.” Making the most of the buzz around the New Zealand Cycle Classic, the Waipa Wheelfest (if that’s what it will be called) will also include cycling activities for young and old, possibly including a twilight festival along the lines of the one run on Anzac Day, Amanda said.
The event will also further cement Cambridge’s place as New Zealand’s home of cycling and is sure to be an exciting addition to the local sporting calendar.