New Zealand's premier stage race, the Trust House Cycle Classic, will kick off with many of the top teams heading over from Australia to take on the 21st edition of the race, which begins January 30 in Lower Hutt.
The event will see the FRF Couriers-NSWIS, Ord Minnetti Professional Team and Savings and Loans teams line up alongside the South Australia.com-AIS professional team in a head-to-heat battle with the top Kiwi squads, including the Trek-Zookeepers Cafe team of last year's winner Hayden Roulston and Gordon McCauley as well as the Subway squad of Jeremy Yates.
"Securing four top Australian teams is great for the sport and for our event. The Trust House 2008 Tour already looks like being bigger and better than last year, and that's fantastic for everyone involved," said race director Jorge Sandoval. "The Australians are very competitive and always want to do well. They will be formidable opposition."
Sandoval also announced the longest stage ever included in the tour. The traditional stage up Admiral hill in the Wairarapa has been extended by 60 kilometres to create a 185 km beast with six hill climbs, two of them grade one.
"I think it is about time to step up the tour in many ways. By having a longer stage in day three it will get the best riders out in front and waiting for the final day individual time trial. This year's winner would need the strength in the mountains and also the speed in the time trial" Sandoval said.
Top Australian Bernard Sulzberger will team up with current Oceania champion Matt Sillars, New Zealand representative Hayden Godfrey and recently crowned under-23 road national champion Thomas Hanover and Stephen Elden on the Tabak team, placing him at the top list of contenders for the crown.