Gravel and Tar cycle race awarded UCI status
The Gravel and Tar Classic cycle race in Manawatu has been awarded 1.2 level status by the UCI
During the World Road Cycling Championships in Norway last week, cycling's international body rewarded the Gravel and Tar organisers with a level of accreditation reserved for only eight other races in Oceania.
The level 2 is the third-highest level behind the world tour and level 1.
Other races with UCI status include the Tour Down Under (world tour) and the Cadel Evans Road Race.
Race organiser Steve Stannard said being awarded UCI status is a big deal for the region and cycling in New Zealand.
"For one weekend, we will have all the cycling fans in mid-winter Europe glued to their computers and TV to see who is going to win this tough event, a bit like a down-under version of the famous Paris Roubaix," he said. "It will really put Palmerston North and the Manawatu on the international cycling map. "
The Gravel and Tar Classic will be on Saturday, January 27, following the New Zealand Cycle Classic (also a UCI event) a week earlier in Wairarapa.
It's expected the Gravel and Tar will attract professional riders and teams from all over the world who have travelled to Australia and New Zealand seeking UCI points early in the season.
"UCI points are important early in the year because it gives the teams a better chance of being invited to big races such as the spring classics and grand tours in Europe later on."
It's expected New Zealand's best trade teams like Team Skoda Racing, Bike Box and Blinds Direct will want to participate again, but they will be hard pressed against the likes of Avanti Isowhey, and a raft of other Asian-based continental and pro-continental teams.
Cycling New Zealand and its chief executive Andrew Matheson supported and endorsed the application to UCI on behalf of Gravel and Tar.
"We are pleased that New Zealand is able to host another international cycling event and this shows the confidence the UCI has in NZ as a cycling nation," Matheson said.
"The timing and proximately of both UCI events makes New Zealand a viable destination for international riders who are already in the region for the Australia classics.
"It will also provide New Zealand riders the opportunity to race in their own country and for our developing riders to gain valuable experience."
Alongside the Gravel and Tar Classic, a Gran Fondo will be held over 70 km.
This is to give local riders of all ages, levels and genders the opportunity to ride on part of the course the elite men will be taking.
There is also a 30km fun ride.
For more information please visit: http://www.bikemanawatu.co.nz/index.php/2013-04-05-21-48-34/gravel-tar