New Zealand will host the first UCI-sanctioned road cycling events in the world in January, and the only international road events on the Oceania UCI calendar for 2021.
The 34th New Zealand Cycle Classic will be staged in the Wairarapa from 13 January with the final stage in downtown Wellington on 17 January.
This will be followed by the Gravel and Tar Classic and Gravel and Tar Femme races in the Manawatu on Saturday 23 January.
Both are UCI level 2 sanctioned events, and the sole Oceania UCI events after all six Australian races usually run early in the year, including the Tour Downunder, were cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However the world body has granted dispensation to the race organisers of the New Zealand events by allowing full sanctioning status and official UCI points without the mandatory number of international teams competing because of the border restrictions.
Cycling New Zealand Athlete Development Lead and National Road Selector, Graeme Hunn is excited that these racing opportunities have remained available despite the disruption and the opportunity this presents for more NZ riders to take part.
“We commend the perseverance by the race organisers to keep these events on the calendar despite the challenges they have faced and especially the impact travel restrictions have on their ability to host international riders.
“These events are aspirational to our young domestic riders and are a critical development opportunity and with the exceptions made by UCI more young riders can now take part and they will be joined on the start line by some of our World Tour and international professional riders who have remained or returned to New Zealand due to the cancellation of other races.”
New Zealand Cycle Classic race director Jorge Sandoval is looking forward to delivering January’s event in a memorable way.
“This is my 34th NZ Cycle Classic and despite all the issues we and the world have with Covid 19, my team and I are working very hard to ensure the 2021 NZ Cycle Classic is once again the premier multi-day cycle race in New Zealand,” said Sandoval.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for young up-and-upcoming kiwi cyclists to take part in a UCI event right here in our own country and see what it is like. I am grateful to all our sponsors for their continued support and we invite the cycling community to participate in the special cycling events in the final day in Wellington, including children and local riders which will take place before the final stage around downtown streets in the Capital.”
Gravel and Tar organiser Steve Stannard said with the NZ events the first in the world and without international riders, that a New Zealand rider could lead the UCI World Rankings until the European season gets underway.
Stannard is thankful for the support of the Manawatu community to stage the race.
"A big group of people in the Manawatu Region have pulled together to make the Gravel and Tar races happen where so many other sporting events have been cancelled. We are proud to be offering elite races for both men and women as well as participation opportunities for our recreation riders.
“The continuity this provides is helping our riders stay motivated, and will put New Zealand in the world cycling spotlight for a few weeks.”
For more on NZ Cycle Classic: http://www.cycletournz.com/
For more on Gravel and Tar: http://www.gravelandtar.com/