Four treks up the iconic Maungakawa climb will provide the major test for riders in the 2022 New Zealand Road Cycling Championships.
The courses have been released for championships, which will again form part of the popular RIDE Cycling Festival, taking place in Cambridge from 10 to 13 February 2022.
The festival comprises the APL Open Time Trial on Thursday 10 February for general cycling fans, the Championship Time Trial on Friday 11 February, the Gran Fondo public ride on Saturday 12 February with rides over 30km, 87km and 165kms and completed with the Elite Road National Championship Road Races on Sunday 13 February.
While the previous championships in Cambridge have taken in the well-known hills north-west of the town, Race manager Stephen Cox of Dynamo Events has tweaked the courses each year, and this year has included the famed climb of Maungakawa on each lap.
The elite and under-23 women will complete three laps of a 36.5km loop for 109kms while the men will transverse the major climb four times with their race over 144kms.
Each lap includes the early climb of Maungakawa, with each lap comprising 488m of elevation gain, including the major test up Sanatorium Hill, which rises 260m over 3.5kms.
Cox, a former Commonwealth Games medallist and Olympics road rider, believes the course offers something for everyone.
“I actually think the course for 2021 was a tougher test overall. This time the main Maungakawa climb is 3kms and there’s another small steep climb but the rest of the lap is not difficult,” said Cox.
“The 2021 course was a constant up and down.
“The challenge is there for both types of riders. If the climbers wait for the final lap to make a push, then there is still 25kms after the main climb for the stronger riders to roll them. I think the climbers will need to make their mark from the start, try to thin out the contenders and then go from there.
“But if the stronger riders can hang on, then they will have a chance too. Alternatively, those riders might want to make their mark from the start, open a gap and see if they can hang on.”
Cox also thinks the 144km total distance is more than enough, although previous national championships have been longer.
“There may be those who want longer courses, but if a rider can’t do it over four laps, a fifth lap won’t make a difference.
“Also, we are early in the season for our professional riders who we want to attract to this race and this is more than enough to ensure that fans also get a closer and more interesting race.”
The women will complete three loops of the same course for 109kms.
The championship time trial comprises the elite and under-23 men completing a 42.5km test which includes 360m of elevation gain with a 5km Te Miro climb, and links up with part of this year’s popular course.
The elite and under-23 females will be tested over 32.5km of a similar course with 237m of elevation gain.
“The time trial is a real test of all skills and will favour the best allround riders. Both courses will prove a really good test for the elite riders.”
All races start and finish at Tom Voyle Park in Cambridge.
Entries are open for the championships from Wednesday 1 December 2021 at www.eliteroadnationals.nz
Photo credit: Cullen Browne