The Black Spoke team that competed at this years NZ Cycle Classic. PHOTO/FILE
New Zealand’s only professional team Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy is to race in Wairarapa over the next three weeks in what is a major boost for the Trust House North Island Team Series.
In its seventh year, the series previously featured masters and age groups riders, but it will now be contested in categories.
“I listened to feedback from riders who have taken part over the last few years and revamped this year’s series so riders will be grouped in their ability category as opposed to their age,” organiser Jorge Sandoval said.
“This means riders will now race against riders of the same ability.
“The other thing I have done is cater to the growing demand from female riders to race. I have two women’s teams with a couple of mixed teams entered, which is great.”
The changes have already proved popular, attracting the biggest field with 237 riders from as far north as Auckland in 26 teams across four categories.
Leading the charge in category one is the Black Spoke team, which will be led by Aaron Gate, a gold medal winner at the 2019 UCI track racing champs in Cambridge and Brisbane, and last year’s New Zealand Cycle Classic tour winner.
Gate will be joined by top hill climber James Oram, who led the Mitchelton Bike Exchange Continental team on the Asian circuit last year, and former junior world champion Luke Mudgway.
Other team members are Ethan Batt, Josh Kench, Ari Scott, Xander White, Kiaan Watt, and Dylan McCullough.
Black Spoke previously tasted success in Wairarapa, having won the team classification in January’s Trust House NZ Cycle Classic.
The team will remain in Wairarapa between races one and two for an intensive week-long training camp as part of their build-up to November’s Tour of Southland.
“It’s a great opportunity for Black Spoke to be able to incorporate Jorge’s races into our training camp and we felt it our duty to support Jorge in putting on a race series in such a crazy year,” said team manager Scott Guyton.
“While many of our riders have raced in Wairarapa, the team looks forward to being able to explore the region at a more leisurely pace.”
Sandoval was thrilled with Black Spoke’s decision to be based in the region.
“I’ve no doubt their inclusion in the Trust House team series for the first time will make for such an exciting race and I encourage as many spectators to get out and watch this team, and the others, in action, because they won’t be disappointed,” Sandoval said.
The first race in the five-race series begins and finishes at Alfredton School, on Sunday, September 27. Teams competing in category one will complete 102km, while categories two, three and four will race over 65km.
With covid-19 restrictions in place, all riders must sign in for contact tracing purposes and adhere to good hygiene practices.
Sandoval has signed up to the ‘Voluntary Code for Events’ which follows best practice expectations, based on Health Ministry guidance to reduce covid-19 related risks.
He has also taken advice from Cycling New Zealand for holding cycling events under covid-19 restrictions.