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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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International riders drawn in

American track cyclist Adrian Hegyvary [centre] will be racing in this year’s NZ Cycle Classic. PHOTOS/CULLUM BROWNE

CYCLING

Team Trust House has been given a significant boost ahead of this week’s opening stage of the UCI 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic with the inclusion of two renowned international cyclists.

American track cyclist Adrian Hegyvary and Scottish road and track cyclist Mark Stewart will join the six-man team for the cycle event, which is staged in Wairarapa and Wellington.

Hegyvary, who specialises in the Madison, has won multiple national, Pan American, and World Cup titles and is on the long list for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Stewart, a Scottish road and track cyclist most notably won the Points race Gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Adrian Hegyvary, Mark Stewart, Regan Gough, and Jordan Kerby, from Team USA and New Zealand.

The pair will be the only international riders to compete in this year’s five-day race due to world-wide travel restrictions put in place after the global covid-19 pandemic. They will be joined by New Zealand riders Boris Clark, Carne Groube, Dan Bridgwater and Hugo Jones to form one of 14 teams contesting the event.

Hegyvary, who married New Zealand cyclist Rushlee Buchanan and is now a New Zealand resident, had his 2020 travel plans, which originally revolved around the Tokyo Olympics, thrown up in the air and remained here during lockdown. He has since thrown himself into training and is looking forward to making his NZ Cycle Classic debut this week and visiting Wairarapa for the first time.

“Training has been good here,” Hegyvary said.

“I think it’s easy to forget living in New Zealand how difficult things are everywhere else in the world. USA Cycling had to lay off most of their staff because of lost funding from covid-19, including the men’s track endurance coach who I was working with before. So, to be able to race and train freely in New Zealand, not to mention enjoy the summer now, has been an enormous privilege.”

“[I’m thankful] to Jorge [Sandoval, NZ Cycle Classic Race director] and the sponsors of the NZ Cycle Classic race for putting together an event of its scale despite travel restrictions keeping out the normal teams. Most of my teammates have not raced in almost a year and are all shocked that it’s happening somewhere in the world!”

Hegyvary, who was an intern coach with the Waikato Hub team in 2020, has ridden or trained with most of his teammates. He also teamed up with Stewart last November to claim silver at the NZ Madison championship.

Stewart, on the other hand, came to New Zealand last March to visit girlfriend Emma Cumming and never left, also caught out by lockdown. But Stewart said he felt very lucky to be here while the world was having a tough time.

“The roads are amazing here and the Avantidrome and Cycling NZ have been great, letting me use the gym and track,” he said.

Like Hegyvary, Stewart started training with his teammates and will also make his NZ Cycle Classic debut this week.

“I’m particularly looking forward to racing around the streets of Wellington [on the final stage],” Stewart said.

“I want to have some fun, race hard, and annoy the other teams.”

The five-stage race, which was established in 1988, will have 14 teams of six riders zoom through and around the townships of Masterton, Carterton and Martinborough as well on roads that pass through rolling rural countryside and past vineyards. It concludes in Wellington city with a Criterium.

It will be the sole Oceania stage road event being held in New Zealand this month.

The 2021 Cycle Classic will begin on Wednesday in Masterton with a 10km team’s time trial. The next morning is a 158.1km stage taking riders north towards Eketahuna and back, before a small hill climb has them finish outside the Masterton Golf Club in Lansdowne. Stage three is 127km and will have riders depart Masterton and head south to the wine village of Martinborough, while stage four, known as the Queen Stage, is a challenging hilly 127km ride that has riders climb the 6km Te Wharau Hill twice before grinding up the steep Admiral Hill in Gladstone for a hilltop finish. The tour ends in Wellington city on Sunday with a fast-paced criterium around the inner-city streets of Lambton Quay.

In addition, a fun, new community event, Cycle the Golden Mile will be staged before the Criterium giving cyclists of all ages and abilities the rare opportunity to bike along Lambton Quay.

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