In announcing that Wairarapa and Wellington will once again host the 2023 New Zealand Cycle Classic, race director Jorge Sandoval has also unveiled a new fourth stage to be held in Miramar in Wellington.
The five-stage elite men’s road cycling race will be held from Wednesday, 11th January to Sunday, 15th January 2023 and will be the only Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) sanctioned stage race to be held in New Zealand.
Like previous years, the NZ Cycle Classic will feature three exciting days of racing around the townships of Masterton, Carterton and Martinborough in Wairarapa as well on roads that pass-through rolling rural countryside and vineyards.
But there has been a significant change to stage four. For the first time, this will be held around the Miramar Peninsular in Wellington while stage five returns to the centre of the city with a 12-lap circuit around Lambton Quay.
Another new addition to the 2023 event is the first ever Pedal Project Wellington Gran Fondo being held on Saturday 14th January where riders of all abilities will be given the opportunity to ride the same challenging circuit around the Miramar Peninsular.
“I’m super excited to be announcing a new stage route for the New Zealand Cycle Classic for next year as well as hosting our popular Gran Fondo event on this same course. It will be held on Wellington’s iconic Miramar Peninsular and feature hills, corners, and beautiful sea vistas,” says Sandoval. “Having the New Zealand Cycle Classic and this community event held after each other means that local riders will have the chance to test their legs on their own bikes and then stay and watch some of the world’s best riders in action.”
Sandoval says he has been working closely with Wellington City Council to firm up the course route and is confident it will also attract a lot of spectators. Mr Sandoval said registrations for the Gran Fondo open in the next week.
“The past few years have seen so many sporting events cancelled or changed at the last minute due to Covid-19, so I am excited that this event will see the return of our top Kiwi riders as well as many international riders keen to get back racing. This means spectators will be in for a treat.”
Sandoval will announce teams taking part in NZ Cycle Classic over the coming weeks but has hinted that several Kiwi riders who would traditionally be racing offshore have expressed an interest in competing while riders from Bolton Equities Black Spoke PRO Cycling Team, New Zealand’s only Union Cycliste Internationale professional team, are keen to return and retain their title. Sandoval is also hoping to see many of the medal winners from this year’s Commonwealth Games taking part.
The NZ Cycle Classic begins on Wednesday, 11th January with a fast 122km meaning it will be crucial to any rider who is trying to take the Tour victory to be in the best position possible. This stage concludes with a 2km uphill to finish outside the Masterton Golf Club, the home of golfing great Sir Bob Charles.
“During this year’s race riders told me how much they enjoyed this as spectators lined the streets and cheered them on as they zoomed past their front doors towards the finish line.”
Stage two will see riders head south from Masterton to the wine village of Martinborough while on Friday, 13th January, riders will complete the 155km Queen stage with its famous hilltop finish in the Gladstone region.
“Stage three of the New Zealand Cycle Classic is renowned for its steep hilltop finish on Admiral Hill in Gladstone. But for 2023, I’m putting a new twist on it making it even more challenging,” says Sandoval. “I’ve added King of the Mountain sections at the top of Te Wharau Hill, one of the steepest climbs in Wairarapa, before the final slog up Admiral. Riders will climb a total of 2784 meters of altitude!”
Stage three begins Masterton and head towards Gladstone before turning left up the 7km Te Wharau Hill to complete two laps of a 43km circuit comprising of Te Wharau, Wainuiorou and Limeworks hills. After the second lap, riders will turn left onto Lees Pakaraka Road to complete the circuit the opposite way climbing once again Limeworks and the steep side of Te Wharau to the finish at the top of the Admiral Hill.
Mr Sandoval says each of these circuits will require concentration both uphill and downhill with riders expected to reach speeds up to 100km/h racing down the step side of Te Wharau. He says the 155km stage will be the longest and toughest in the NZ Cycle Classic’s 36-year history.
The fourth stage is a 126km circuit around the Miramar Peninsular in Wellington where riders will complete 12 laps of the circuit with a total of 130km, the five-day race end in central Wellington streets.
The 2023 NZ Cycle Classic is able to take place thanks to the generous support from Trust House Foundation, Mobile Communications Service, Wizwireless, Fagan Motors, Mitre 10 Mega Masterton and Lion Foundation plus all three Wairarapa District Councils and Wellington City Council.
“My team and I are very grateful for all the support from our sponsors and key stakeholders and together look forward to making this New Zealand’s biggest international cycle tour,” says Mr Sandoval.