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‘Biggest coup in 30 years’

By Gary Caffell

Cycling guru Jorge Sandoval has received an early Christmas present.

The prime organiser of the five-stage New Zealand Cycling Classic has received confirmation that Sapura Cycling, a professional team based in Malaysia, will contest the 30th edition of the event to be held in its entirety in the Wairarapa next month.

Sandoval was understandably thrilled with the news, saying it would be a privilege to have a team of such quality riders participating in what will be the only Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) sanctioned race staged in this country next year.

Sapura Cycling has strength off and on the road.

Their team is managed by a former Spanish professional rider Sergi Escobar, whose illustrious career was highlighted by the winning of a silver medal at the Athens Olympic Games, and will led by Victor Nino Corredor, a Colombian noted for his hill climbing talents.

On his cv are a King of the Mountains title in the 2014 Tour of China, a third and fourth place in the Tour of Langkawi in 2012 and 2013 respectively and standout performances in the tours of Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala.

Corredor will lack nothing on the score of support.

Also wearing the Sapura colours will be another Colombian climbing specialist, Wilmar Peras, a previous winner of Tour Funza and Tour Boyaca and third place finisher in the King of the Mountain section of the tortuous Tour of Qinghai in the north of China, and three Malaysian riders with experience in the tours of Borneo, Korea, Japan and Iran as well as the Tour of Langkawi.

Sandoval believes Corredor and Peras, the first Colombian riders to ride in New Zealand, will be well suited by the NZCC because of their strength on the hills.

“They have performed extremely well in events where the hills are some of some of the toughest in the world, having them here would be one of the biggest coups in my 30 years of running this tour.”

Today’s news follows on from last week’s announcement that Olympic and world champion rower Hamish Bond would be racing alongside one of the top Kiwi road cyclists, Michael Torckler, for the Blindz Direct-Swift Carbon team and Sandoval is already predicting the 2017 NZCC will be “bigger and better” than any other before it.

It will get underway on Sunday, January 22 with a 121km stage which will take riders from Masterton to Castlepoint and the following day will involve a 147km route which will finish atop the steep Admiral Hill in Gladstone.

Stage three sees the tour go from Masterton to Martinborough wjhere they will complete eight laps of a 8km circuit while stage four takes the field down State Highway 2 and through all five of Wairarapa’s townships before finishing near the Martinborough Square.

The fifth and final stage on January 26 is based just west of Masterton where riders will do battle over 12 laps of a slick 10km circuit.,

Being held simultaneously with the NZCC is Huru Huri, Wairarapa’s Bike Festival which will involve a variety of events and activities catering to all levels of involvement in cycling and all age groups.


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