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Bigger, better road racing

The peloton approaches Alfredton in race one of the 2021 Team Series. PHOTOS/FILE

CYCLING

Race director Jorge Sandoval.

A large field will line up for the opening round of the 2022 Trust House teams road cycling series around the demanding Alfredton circuit on Sunday.

Riders from all over the lower North Island will compete in 17 teams over the five-race series. The races are a rare opportunity for the riders as these are the only road races in the Wellington region’s cycling calendar.

Race director Jorge Sandoval said that should lead to some exciting racing. He is also looking forward to being able to conduct the races free of the restrictions around covid-19 which impacted the 2020 and 2021 series.

For the third year in the series, history cyclists will compete in grade categories rather than age groups.

A women’s grade will also be contested for the first time because of the growing demand from female riders.

“I’ve listened to feedback from riders who have taken part and last year revamped the series, so riders are grouped in their ability category as opposed to their age,” Sandoval said.

“This worked really well, and I will be doing the same this year so riders will now race against riders of the same ability.”

The Tararua Builders team are one of three Wairarapa teams competing in this year’s Team Series.

He said there are different categories to suit all masters’ levels, from the top master rider, veteran competitor or just a keen weekend warrior there is a grade for anyone to have a go.

Sandoval said the series gives the riders a taste of high-level competitive teams’ racing only seen in large domestic tour events like the international New Zealand Cycle Classic, along with support vehicles and a race convoy such as in a professionally-run series.

Three Wairarapa-based teams, two sponsored by Tararua Builders and the Coupland’s Booth’s Group team will compete over the five races, and Sandoval predicted all three teams would perform well.

“The boys have been training hard over the last few weeks to have a good series and hopefully win a title,” he said.

Sunday’s first race starts and finishes at Alfredton School and takes in a 34km lap with several solid hill climbs, and often tricky and strong winds on the course. Teams competing in categories three and four will complete 68km while those in category one and two will complete 102km. The category one riders will be the first to face the starter’s gun at 10am.

Race two in the series on October 2 takes in the Alfredton to Pongaroa and return course.

The third race takes in a new course from Featherston to Tora and back. The fourth race on November 13 starts and finishes in Rangitumau, and the series wraps up on December 4 on the Masterton-Bideford-Dreyers Rock Road-Masterton course.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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