Wellington World Cup round announced

Organisers of the New Zealand leg of the women's World Cup have announced details of next year's event in Wellington. The second of eight legs in the women's World Cup, the Wellington race will be held on March 5, 2006. It will again be preceded by the Trust House Women's Tour of New Zealand - a three-day tour around the Wellington region, and follows the first World Cup round a week earlier in Geelong, Australia.

The race will comprise 20 laps of a 6.5 kilometre course around Wellington's central city, starting and finishing in the grounds of Parliament. Race director Jorge Sandoval says the March 5 date is a coup for the Wellington event, as it is two weeks before the women's road race at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. He says countries will be looking for competition to fine tune their teams, and it's likely next year's field will have even more of an international flavour than the inaugural event earlier this year.

"When we first started working on the 2005 race we thought we would have around six to eight countries involved. So when we managed to get 18, including both the Olympic and world champions, we thought we were doing pretty well," he said. "But this time we could have as many as 24 countries because the race is so close to the Commonwealth Games. It's perfect timing for us. The 2006 race will be even bigger and better."

The main change to next year's event will be a later start time, with the start moving from 10am to 12:30pm. Sandoval believes that will encourage more spectators to come and watch, and says the race is a great opportunity for both New Zealand cycling and the New Zealand public. "I don't think New Zealanders realise yet just how big this event is. These top cyclists can ride in front of crowds of 100,000 people in Europe. This year's Wellington race was shown on TV in 35 countries. It is a very big event," he said.

Sandoval praised the continued support and financial contribution of Trust House and the Wellington, Hutt City and Masterton local authorities, saying that without it the race wouldn't be possible.

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