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New Zealand Cycle Classic celebrates 25th year in 2012

2011 Tour of Wellington winner George Bennett (Team Cardno)

2011 Tour of Wellington winner George Bennett (Team Cardno) (Image credit: Adrian Rumney)

For the first time in its 25-year history the UCI-sanctioned men's Cycle Classic Tour will be held in the Manawatu, New Zealand. Formerly the Tour of Wellington, the five-day event will be renamed the New Zealand Cycle Classic and is scheduled for January 25-29, 2012.

Race director Jorge Sandoval said he is looking forward to reviving the Cycle Classic thanks to the support of Palmerston North City Council and Sport Manawatu. "Earlier this year I took part of my international women's tour of New Zealand to Palmerston North and the reaction was so positive that I started to investigate the possibility of the men racing in the region as well."

Sandoval said that the tour has grown to become one of the most important on the Oceania calendar. "Riders from all around the world compete in this event and continue on to join the professional ranks. Three past riders of the tour rode in this year's Tour de France.

"This is a great opportunity for cycling and the Manawatu region in general. I'm really excited by the change of environment, Manawatu is perfect for cycling at all levels and a new challenge for me."

Originally Sandoval had hoped to mark 25 years of his Wellington tours with one stage on the streets of the capital. However, in recent times it has been restricted to a final stage criterium on Lambton Quay. With the UCI stipulating its tours cannot end with a criterium Sandoval approached the Wellington City Council about having the final stage on the Miramar Peninsula.

"Feedback from the Wellington Council was that this was an unlikely option. This combined with my previous experience in the Manawatu led me to look at an alternative home for the event," says Sandoval.

The event first ran as the Angus Inn Cycle Classic in 1988 and has evolved into the major international event it is today. It is the only UCI event in New Zealand for men's racing.

2012 New Zealand Cycle Classic

Wednesday, January 25
Stage 1: ITT at Massey University – 8km

Thursday, January 26
Stage 2: Ashhurst Circuit – stage finish Palmerston North – 131km

Friday, January 27
Stage 3: Palmerston North – Apiti via Pohangina Rd and return to Palmerston North – 164km

Saturday, January 28
Stage 4: Palmerston North race – top of mountain finish top Saddle road – 143km

Sunday, January 29
Stage 5: Palmerston North – Ashhurst – Colyton – Bunnythopre – Palmerston North – 126km

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