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Trust House Women's Tour toughest yet

The finalised route for next year's Trust House Women's Cycle Tour of New Zealand, March 1-3 2006, promises to be the toughest race yet. The 2006 event will again be a forerunner to the Wellington leg of the Women's World Cup on March 5, with stages held in Wellington, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa.

Riders will complete four stages in three days, covering a total of 216 kilometres. The tour starts whit a circuit in High St, Lower Hutt on Wednesday March 1 at 5.00pm, and finishes with the individual time trial in Wellington on Friday, March 3. Riders will then have a rest day ahead of the Wellington leg of the World Cup, on Sunday March 5, starting at Parliament Grounds at the later time of 12.30pm.

A big change for the race will be the inclusion of the steepest climb in the Wairarapa - Te Wharau hill - previously used only by their male counterparts. Race director Jorge Sandoval says the change has been made in response to feedback from riders who competed last year. "We didn't want to make it too hard last year because it's early in the season and the riders are not race fit," he said. "But some of the Russian team said to me last year that it was too easy - they wanted it to be more challenging. And believe me, it will be next year. The stage up Te Wharau hill is the same one we'll be using in the men's tour earlier in January - it will be hard on their legs, because it's on just the second day of racing."

The 2006 event will feature the New Zealand national team and three composite teams from around the country, taking on 16 other national or professional teams, with riders from 24 countries. Sandoval says along with excellent racing, the 2006 tour will also provide even better spectator opportunities. "It will also be televised both nationally and internationally, so it really provides a unique showcase for the Wellington and Wairarapa regions."

Stages

Stage 1 - March 1: Hutt City Criterium, 40km
Stage 2 - March 2: Martinborough - Masterton, 117km
Stage 3 - March 2: Masterton Criterium, 45km
Stage 4 - March 3: Miramar Peninsular ITT, 14km

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