The Women's Tour of New Zealand will expand in 2010 into the Manawatu region of that country for the seventh edition of the race. Organiser Jorge Sandoval announced a six-stage course for the event, which was previously confined to Wellington, Hutt Valley and the Wairarapa.
The race will begin on familiar ground with a 95km route from Martinborough to Masterton before heading into new territory on day two with a 114km stage from Masterton to Palmerston North via the Pahiatua Track. Racers will then complete two stages in the Palmerston North area before returning to Masterton on the penultimate day via the track, adding a degree of difficulty never before seen in the tour.
The Pahiatua Track has figured in numerous Manawatu men's races over the years, including the Auckland to Wellington tour in 1987, but it will be virgin territory for an international women's race. The track has a fearsome reputation. Strong winds can batter the riders as they negotiate a 12km climb both out and back.
"The 540 km tour route is one of the hardest in the six-year history of the event," said Sandoval. "It will reward the strong climbers. In addition to the Pahiatua track there are also the Admiral and Te Wharau hills in a total of 12 climbs.
With the event part of the International Cycling Union's international circuit Sandoval is assured of high quality opposition to test the New Zealand riders, who will be using the event to enhance their claims for inclusion in the team for the Commonwealth Games in India later in the year.
2010 NZCT Women's Tour of New Zealand
Stage 1 - February 24: Martinborough - Masterton, 95km
Stage 2 - February 25: Masterton - Palmerston North, 114km
Stage 3 - February 26: Palmerston North Circuit, 125km
Stage 4 - February 26: Palmerston North Criterium, 35km
Stage 5 - February 27: Palmerston North - Masterton, 112km
Stage 6 - February 28: City of Wellington Criterium – Lambton Quay, 35km