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Racers ready for New Zealand's "toughest road cycling event"

On Saturday, New Zealand racers will tackle the K2 Cycle Classic, a 200km road race around the Coromandel Peninsula also known as New Zealand's "toughest road cycling event." K2 gets its name from the 200km distance and the township of Kuaotunu, which in Maori means “to inspire fear in young animals.”

New Zealand pro Eric Mackenzie compares the hilly race to the classics, "I've ridden many European Classics, and the K2 round the Coromandel Peninsula is the best comparison you'll get here in New Zealand.”

Denmark's Linda Villumsen, 21-years-old, will compete in the women's race. Villumsen had a break-through year after winning the women’s Tour de France. Villumsen is spending her off-season traveling and training in New Zealand. Although far from race fitness, the European time trial champion is looking forward to racing New Zealanders Michelle Hyland, Amy Mosen and Gina Waible.

The men’s race is wide open. Kiwi Olympian Glenn Mitchell, the winner for the last three years, will not return to defend his K2 streak. Favorites include New Zealand under 23 national champions Joseph Cooper and Clinton Avery and pros Peter Latham, Logan Hutchings, Aaron Strong, and Scott Lyttle.

As well as the feature event, organisers will also stage an introductory 100km race and a 400km race for endurance junkies.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.