Ahead of the this weekend's Tour of Southland, New Zealand's other big event, the Tour of Wellington has been confirmed by the UCI as a 2.2 event. The rating continues the event's proud history as New Zealand's only internationally recognised cycling event, and with the 25th anniversary of the race set to take place next year, race organiser Jorge Sandoval is planning something
"With the 25th edition of the Tour in January we are really looking forward to a great celebration," Sandoval said. "The event is recognised overseas as the road tour with the highest international standing in this country and I expect it will be reflected in the quality of the New Zealand and overseas riders taking part. Six UCI pro teams will be invited to take part in addition to a specially selected New Zealand national team.
"Each year the classic unearths new talent, and a number of those riders have gone on to win stages in the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and world championships."
Last year's winner was Trek Livestrong rider George Bennett who is expected to be on the cusp of announcing a WorldTour future for 2012, but the event has also been won by a plethora of quality riders including Hayden Roulston, Robbie McEwen, Matthew Lloyd and Travis Meyer over the years.
With the Tour route finalised Sandoval singled out two of the stages in particular as crucial to whoever becomes the overall victor. The 164km stage three from Palmerston North and return via Apiti and the Pohangina Valley, and stage four on the penultimate day from Palmerston North to a mountain finish at the top of Saddle Road.
The 25th Tour of Wellington runs from January 25 to 29
Wednesday 25th, Stage 1: Individual Time Trial - 8km
Thursday 26th, Stage 2: Palmerston North - Ashhurst - Palmerston North - 113km
Friday 27th, Stage 3: Palmerston North - Apiti - Palmerston North - 163.5km
Saturday 28th, Stage 4: Plamerston North - Finish top Saddle Road - 131km
Sunday 29th, Stage Five; Palmerston North Circuit - 112km