Jorge Sandoval is thrilled to welcome back Bolton Equities Black Spoke to this week’s Union Cycliste Internationale 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic being staged in Wairarapa and Wellington.
Sandoval, the Race Director for the five-day elite men’s road cycling tour beginning in Masterton on Wednesday 11th January, says after Bolton Equities Black Spoke was elevated to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Pro Teams rank late last year they would become the first New Zealand pro team to take part in the event.
“I’m very excited to welcome Bolton Equities Black Spoke back to the Wairarapa and Wellington this week and look forward to seeing them make their debut as the first ever New Zealand team in the Pro Tour ranks,” says Sandoval. “Even though Black Spoke began as an academy of sorts to help Kiwi riders get to the next stage of their careers, they’ve made a huge impact in this Tour with – winning the 2022 yellow jersey and taking multiple stage wins in 2021 and 2022 thanks to Aaron Gate, Campbell Stewart and Mark Stewart.”
Headlining Bolton Equities Black Spoke is accomplished sprinter Luke Mudgway, the 2014 Track World Champion, winner of the 2022’s Gemenc Grand Prix in Hungary and stage winner in the 2021 NZCC. Mudgway will be supported by James Oram, Logan Currie, Ethan Batt, Ollie Jones who finish second in the 2022 NZCC, and new team member joining the pro ranks for the first time – talented 2022 Tour of Southland winner Josh Burnett.
Bolton Equities Black Spoke will be managed by Scott Guyton, a former professional and owner of one of Auckland’s most successful independent cycling stores. The team is backed by successful businessman Murray Bolton – a passionate Kiwi and sport enthusiast with a drive for success. The team was founded with the aim to provide opportunities for promising New Zealanders to gain the experience to be able to compete on the international circuit. 2019 NZ Cycle Classic winner Gate has been a key role model and mentor for the young riders.
“As always, the Team looks forward to racing the New Zealand Cycle Classic and seeing how the pre-season preparation has been going,” says Guyton. “It’s great to have a Tour that it on our home soil and with many familiar riders. Having a new stage is always exciting and something to look forward to.”
Guyton says the team has a big season ahead of them with a double program featuring 20 riders, four of whom are non-kiwis.
“The structure of each rider’s program for the year is different and they all have a slightly different race calendar. We have some of our key riders lining up in the NZ Cycle Classic – James Oram, Luke Mudgway, Logan Currie and Ethan Batt who have been with the team for multiple years now and will be enjoying this Tour as their first race of the season before a huge season as a new UCI Pro Team,” says Guyton.
“Ollie Jones is new to the team but not new to the race and this will be a great test with new teammates. Josh Burnett is a developing rider in the team, and we look forward to seeing how he gels in a race situation.”
Guyton says Gate is currently in Europe preparing for the Team’s first World Tour start at the Cadel Evan’s Great Ocean Road Race being held later this month in Geelong while 2022 NZ Cycle Classic winner Mark Stewart is preparing for the European season, with his first race being February’s Tour of Antalya in Turkey.
Sandoval says having Bolton Equities Black Spoke join the field of 15 teams will make things interesting.
“From now, this team will be up there with the other big teams on the Pro Tour calendar, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them getting wild card invitations to some of the big tours such as Tour of Spain, Tour of Swisse or even Tour de France,” says Sandoval. “They’ve shown they’re a team who wants to win, racing very aggressively and I’ve no doubt their inclusion in our event will make for such an exciting race and I encourage as many spectators as possible to get out and watch this team, and the others, in action – they won’t be disappointed.”
Like previous years, the UCI 2.2 New Zealand 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.
The 158km stage one begins this Wednesday in Masterton and will see riders depart from the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park at 10am. Riders head northeast into the countryside before returning to town and finishing with a 2km uphill outside the Masterton Golf Club, the home of golfing great Sir Bob Charles.
Stage two will see riders head south from Masterton to the wine village of Martinborough finishing the stage with an eight-lap circuit around the village while on Friday, 13th January, riders will complete the 155km “Queen” stage with its famous hilltop finish.
The 2023 NZ Cycle Classic is able to take place thanks to the generous support from Trust House, Mobile Communications Service, Wizwireless, Fagan Motors, Pedal Project, Best Build Construction plus all three Wairarapa District Councils and Wellington City Council.
Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy
Team manager: Scott Guyton
1 Logan Currie New Zealand
2 Luke Mudgway New Zealand
3 Ethan Batt New Zealand
4 Ollie Jones New Zealand
5 James Oram New Zealand
6 Josh Burnett New Zealand
All stages HERE
Gran Fondo HERE