The UCI has granted international status to a five-day women's classic in New Zealand this February, while organisers have announced that New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT) has signed on as the event's title sponsor. The event will be run by promoter Jorge Sandoval, who has been working with the UCI to ensure its international status and secure sponsorship for the tour that will start in the Hutt Valley on February 27.
"This is great news for our sport and the region," Sandoval said. "To have NZCT on board is very special as it gives us the confidence to put on a first class event in 2008 and in the years to come."
Sandoval hopes that the new tour will assist the Wellington region to regain a round of the Women's World Cup, which it last hosted in 2006. "We are trying really hard to get the world cup back to Wellington from 2009," he said. "We recently meet with the UCI Vice – President and we have been invited to go to the UCI in Switzerland early in 2008 to do a formal presentation."
"In order to keep the momentum from the two World Cups in 2005 and 2006, we will run a bigger NZCT Women's Tour of New Zealand next year in the Wellington and Wairarapa area and one of the stages will take place in the proposed new circuit for the 2009 women's world cup." Sandoval added.
Riders in next year's NZCT funded event will race up the steepest hill climbs in the Wairarapa – Admiral hill and Te Wharau hill – previously used only by their male counterparts. This will be a testing introduction to the tour as it will happen on the second day of racing. This will prove particularly gruelling for the European riders who come to New Zealand early in their season.
Over the five days of racing riders will complete six stages for a total of 470 kilometres. The race starts with a circuit in Hutt City on Wednesday 27th February at 2.00pm, and finishes with a criterium race in downtown Wellington on Sunday March 2.