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Climbing legs to be tested

Who has the best climbing legs?

That is the big question heading into the challenging race four of the Trust House North Island Team Series to be raced on Sunday.

Labelled as the ‘Queen’ race of the series by event organiser Jorge Sandoval, the race includes an energy-sapping 3km climb to the finish at the top of Rangitumau Hill.

To add spice to the race, for the first time in the series’ history the Rice Mountain Classic Trophy will be awarded to the category two winner.

Sandoval said the Rice Mountain Classic is a race cyclists target and train seriously for, so they can be recognised as the best climber in the region.

“There is no tougher race in the Wellington region, and each year the anticipation and trash talk leading up to the race grows,” he said.

First held in 1996, the race honours the contribution to cycling in the region by the late Alan Rice.

Although a shorter history than some of the other cups, the trophy is without question one of the region’s highest prized titles, is traditionally raced over extremely demanding courses, and it has always found worthy winners.

For the first few years, the course was over what’s still known as the “Old Rice Mountain Loop” taking in Haywards Hill, Paekakariki Hill, and Akatarawa Hill Rd.

From 1996-99 the start-finish was at the Haywards Hill summit, and from 2000-02 at Waikanae.

This year riders will climb the Dreyers Rock hill on their way back from Alfredton before going up to the finish at the top of Rangitumau Hill.

“Race four will be really hard, and it’s the one everyone has been waiting for. For all categories, the race takes place on undulating terrain and finishes with a gruelling hilltop finish,” Sandoval said.

“Rangitumau hill has been used in the series in past years, and club riders from Masterton usually ride up there once a year. But this promises to get many riders into the unknown”.

Sandoval said he wouldn’t be surprised if there were new leaders in some categories after the race.

As well as individual placings, valuable points are up for grabs for the team’s competition, with the first 15 riders across the line gaining points.

Jack Polley from the Wellington club PNP leads category two, and West Coast North Island tops the team standings.

Category Three is headed by Luke Kuggeleijn [Laskeys Auto Pahiatua], with Pedal Project out in front in the teams’ championships.

Kapiti Cycling Club lead the team classification in category four, and Andrew Campbell [Pedal Project] is the individual leader.

Sunday’s races start from the Rangitumau Hall at 10am and finishes at the top of Rangitumau Hill at about 12.15pm. Category two riders will complete 114km, and categories three and four will race over 67km.

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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