The return of a fast technical stage on the outskirts of Carterton is the major change of the Mitre 10 MEGA Masterton New Zealand Cycle Classic to be raced in January.
The stage in rural Carrington replaces the fourth stage of the 2023 tour, which was based around Wellington’s Miramar Peninsula, meaning four of the five stages will be held in Wairarapa.
Race director Jorge Sandoval describes the stage as a thrilling 122km circuit, with riders completing five laps of a 26km route, providing exciting racing and excellent viewing for spectators.
“Local riders in Wairarapa and Wellington will be familiar with the Carrington circuit as it is fast, hilly and features tight twisty turns, meaning it’s also a very technical ride,” Sandoval said.
“We enjoyed having this as a stage about eight or nine years ago, so it’s really exciting to be able to bring it back to the five-stage tour and ensure we keep things interesting for all our national and international riders racing.”
The Carrington stage will be the penultimate of the five-day tour that will conclude in Wellington, with a criterion around the inner-city streets.
The 2024 tour will begin on Wednesday, January 10, with a high-speed 158km stage from Masterton to Alfredton, culminating with a challenging 2km uphill finish outside the Masterton Golf Club.
Stage two will take riders from Masterton through the rolling country hillside of Gladstone before ending up in the renowned wine village of Martinborough, where riders will complete seven laps of a fast and flat circuit that borders the village, neighbouring vineyards and olive groves.
Stage three sees riders tackle the renowned “Queen” stage, a challenging 126km hilly route described by Sandoval as “intense”.
“This gruelling Queen stage of the Tour has always raised eyebrows and got the heart racing,” he said.
Starting in Masterton, the riders head towards Gladstone and tackle the gruelling Te Wharau Hill, one that demands concentration both uphill and downhill and, in the past, has seen riders reach speeds of up to 100kmh on the descent. It then finishes with the famed hilltop finish atop Admiral Hill.
Sandoval will unveil the teams participating in New Zealand’s only Union Cycliste International 2.2 race over the coming weeks, with there likely to be a strong international flavour along with several Kiwis racing overseas, and New Zealand-based riders.