Festival and Classic set to be epic

The Cycle Classic, previously held in Wairarapa, will take place in and around Cambridge in January. Photo – Dave Lintott Photography.

Planning for the New Zealand Cycling Festival and Cycle Classic in Cambridge is in full swing with new sponsors and official routes announced recently. The Cycle Classic over January 23 – 27 will see elite international cycling teams race roads in and around the local area, in what is Oceania’s only UCI 2.2 race.

The competition’s five stages, which total nearly 700km over five days, will take place around Roto-o-rangi, Karapiro, Te Awamutu and Maungakawa before the final stage through the Cambridge township. Throughout the competition, if any rider doesn’t complete their stage within the set amount of time, they’re out of the race all together.  “I am hoping the Waikato community get behind our event and come out to watch the stages and support the riders,” said race director Jorge Sandoval, who this year moved the January 2019 event from Wairarapa to Cambridge.

Cycle Classic organiser Jorge Sandoval is excited to see the event come to Cambridge in January. Photo – Dave Lintott Photography.

It starts with Stage One in Leamington on January 23, dubbed “Lost lake loop” as it passes through the lost lake of Roto-o-rangi, heading along Kaipaki Rd, shaving the edges of Ohaupo and Te Awamutu through the old peatlands and on to the final leg in Roto-o-rangi, totalling 134.1km.

January 24’s Stage Two, “Hydro heat” takes cyclists on a 129km wide loop around Mt Maungatautari from Leamington to Pukeatua, finishing at Lake Karapiro, before Stage Three on January 25 steps things up a notch with “The long road”, a 157km loop starting and finishing in Te Awamutu. The 143.8km Stage Four dubbed “The climb” on January 26 takes riders north of Cambridge towards Morrinsville, with a wide loop around the Whitehall hills, through the Hobbiton Movie Set and on to Karapiro Rd for an epic finish atop Maungakawa hill where an exciting spectator event is planned – including a Good George pop-up pub and a “ride” shuttle to get spectators to the top, enjoying the finish in the picturesque Gudex Memorial Park.

The final Stage Five on January 27, the “Circuit of champions” sees cyclists do eight laps around the St Peter’s ring road and another eight laps around Bruntwood, Discombe, Hautapu and Peake Rds, totalling 134km as they finish on Queen St where a grand prizegiving and “Party in the Park” will take place at Victoria Square.

“Each stage of the Cycle Classic tours a different part of our district, giving athletes and spectators the chance to take in some of our unique landscapes and an opportunity for us to share our rich past,” said Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest. “Whether it is a peat-bog or New Zealand Land Wars battle site, we want to take the opportunity now to share these significant sites which make-up the story of Waipā.”

Views from Stage One’s “Lost lake loop” across Roto-o-rangi. Photo – Meghan Maloney Photography.

The New Zealand Festival of Cycling will be held in Cambridge in conjunction with the Cycle Classic – a week-long festival encouraging people of all ages and abilities to get out and cycle more regularly, made possible with support from the Brian Perry Charitable Trust and the Waipa District Council which has committed $100,000 per year for three years towards the festival.

Although the Cycle Classic is for elite riders only, the Hobbiton Gran Fondo on January 26 will be open for all riders to take part – with 22, 66 and 103km racing options. More information is available at ridewaikato.co.nz.

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