It’s been a busy few weeks for Union Cycliste International 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic race director Jorge Sandoval.
In a major development two weeks ago, Sandoval revealed that Mitre 10 MEGA Masterton was the new naming rights sponsor for the 2024 international men’s cycle tour, taking place in Wairarapa and Wellington from Wednesday, January 10th to Sunday, January 14th.
This week, Sandoval is announcing a significant change to the fourth stage of the five-day tour. The fourth stage will now be held in the picturesque, rural area of Carrington, on the outskirts of Wairarapa township Carterton.
Sandoval says this stage is a thrilling 122km circuit, which will see riders complete five laps of a 26km route, providing an exciting racing experience for both participants and spectators alike.
“Local riders in Wairarapa and Wellington will be familiar with the Carrington circuit as its fast, hilly and features tight twisty turns meaning it’s also a very technical ride,” says Sandoval. “We enjoyed having this as a stage about eight or nine years ago so it’s really exciting to be able to bring it back to the five-stage tour, and ensure we keep things interesting for all our national and international riders racing.”
The 2024 tour will begin on Wednesday, January 10th, with a high-speed 158km stage from Masterton to Alfredton, which culminates with a challenging 2km uphill finish outside the Masterton Golf Club, a route that offers spectators and exciting finish and a challenging conclusion for riders.
Stage two will lead riders from Masterton through the rolling country hillside of Gladstone before ending up in the renowned wine village of Martinborough, where riders will complete seven laps of a fast and flat circuit that borders the village, neighbouring vineyards and olive groves.
Stage three sees the return of the renown “Queen” stage and will seeriders race a challenging 126km hilly route. Sandoval describes this as “intense” and says it will challenge riders every step of the way.
“This gruelling Queen stage of the Tour has always raised eyebrows and got the heart racing,” says Sandoval. “Starting in Masterton, the riders head towards Gladstone and must complete the gruelling Te Wharau Hill, one that demands concentration both uphill and downhill and, in the past, has seen riders reach speeds of up to 100km/h on the descent. It then finishes with a famed hilltop finish atop Admiral Hill with incredible views east to the coast and then over the entire Wairarapa valley.”
The new Carrington circuit marks the fourth stage while the five-day tour will conclude in New Zealand’s Capital City, Wellington, with a grand finale circuit around its inner-city streets.
“The 2024 New Zealand Cycle Classic promises an exhilarating showcase of elite men’s road cycling, coupled with the warm hospitality of the Wairarapa and Wellington regions. Cycling enthusiasts and spectators can look forward to an unforgettable experience, celebrating the spirit of sportsmanship and community support,” says Sandoval.
The 2024 Mitre 10 Mega Masterton NZ Cycle Classic owes its realization to the generous support from sponsors including Mitre 10 MEGA Masterton, Mobile Communications Service, Wizwireless, Fagan Motors, Gollins Commercial, FMG, The Sign Factory, Tailwind, Cross Country Rentals, and Wellington City Council.
Despite this extensive support from local businesses, Sandoval noted the absence of support from local Councils which have traditionally helped support this international sporting event.
"My team and I are profoundly grateful for the support from our sponsors and key stakeholders. Together, we are poised to make this New Zealand's most significant international cycle tour. It is unfortunate that the 2024 event does not include the support of our local councils, however I hope they can see the value that an international sporting event brings to the Wairarapa and helps promote our beautiful region as an international cycling destination and promotes a lifelong love of the sport.”
Sandoval is exciting to unveil the national and international teams participating in the 2024 UCI 2.2 Mitre 10 MEGA New Zealand Cycle Classic in the coming weeks … notably, several Kiwi riders traditionally racing offshore, who have expressed their keen interest.