Stage five of the 2020 NZ Cycle Classic UCI Oceania Tour in Wairarapa. PHOTO/DAVE LINTOTT

Langlands says quality of racing stepped up

Mark Langlands. PHOTO/FILE

Mark Langlands has become adept at juggling two wheels and two vineyards.

For the second year in a row, the former professional road cyclist turned viticulture student and worker, will be the sole Wairarapa rider lining up to contest the UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic which
gets under way in Masterton tonight.

With only three papers left to go to complete his viticulture degree through Eastern Institute of Technology, Mark has spent the summer busy managing Redbank Vineyard on Te Muna Rd and consulting to Stonecrop Vineyard just south of Martinborough, all the while building up mileage on the bike ahead of this week’s five-day tour.

“It’s definitely been a busy couple of weeks juggling early morning starts on the vineyard and then making each training session count,” he said.

“The good news is I am feeling strong on the bike which I hope holds me in good stead for the tour.”

Langlands will line up in the red and white racing strip of Coupland’s Bakeries/Booth’s Transport alongside teammates Nick Kergozou, Glenn Haden, Madi Hartley-Brown, Liam Cappel, and Toby Atkins.

They are one of 14 teams contesting the five-day event.

Others include Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy, New Zealand’s only UCI pro team, Australian based St George Continental with a line-up of Kiwi riders, the New Zealand National team, and a Cycling NZ team.

“[As a team], we gel well together, and I’ve ridden with four of the guys before and they all play off each other. This year, we’re aiming to chase a series of stage wins and I’m particularly looking forward to stage three in Martinborough in front of my second home [first home is Cambridge] as well as stage two up and around Alfredton,” Langlands said.

Like many other riders in this year’s NZ Cycle Classic, Langlands is excited about racing Sunday’s fifth and final stage in Wellington – something that has not happened in this event for 10 years.

“There’s definitely a buzz created with the tour finishing in Wellington,” he said.

“It is going to be very special. The atmosphere should be great as they will shut down the inner-city streets for the Criterium – it reminds me of the Crits I used to ride in North America. I think everyone will be fizzing for that one.

“And I feel like I’ve got a bit of redemption when it comes to Wellington as last time, I rode in this tour many years ago I crashed on the final lap … damaging more of my pride than my body.”

Because of world-wide travel restrictions put in place with the global covid-19 pandemic, only two international riders will contest this tour.

They are Adrian Hegyvary a leading USA track cyclist who specialises in the Madison, and Mark Stewart, a Scottish road and track cyclist who most notably won the Commonwealth Games Points Gold medal.

Despite the addition of more Kiwi riders in the event, Mark says it will be “business as usual” for his team.

“The tour level in New Zealand is very good at the moment.

The quality of racing has stepped up and we’ve got some amazing young riders coming through. Yes, there will be different dynamics this time around, but it’s a race – it’s business as usual.”

Established in 1988, the five-stage New Zealand Cycle Classic is a UCI level 2 sanctioned event and race director Jorge Sandoval said it will be the sole stage tour being held in the world this month due
to covid-19.

It has attracted 14 teams of six riders who will race through and around the Wairarapa region before finishing in Wellington city.

It opens tonight at 6pm with a teams’ welcome at Mitre 10 MEGA Masterton followed by a 10km team’s time trial at 6.30pm.

Spectators are encouraged to come along. Tomorrow morning is a 158.1km stage taking riders north towards Eketahuna and back, before they finish outside the Masterton Golf Club in Lansdowne.

Friday’s stage three is 127km that takes riders from Masterton south to Martinborough including eight laps through the Square, while stage four – known as the Queen Stage – on Saturday is a challenging hilly, 127km that has riders climb the 6km Te Wharau Hill twice before grinding up the steep Admiral Hill in Gladstone for a hilltop finish.

It ends in Wellington on Sunday with a fast-paced criterium around the inner-city streets of Lambton Quay.

  • Details can be found at www.cycletournz.com


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