Riders from Ireland, Canada, Australia, the United States, Germany, Switzerland, China, Brazil and Singapore will join 270 Kiwi’s on this year’s fourth Tour of New Zealand that begins simultaneously in Northland and Southland on Saturday the 1st of April finishing eight days later at the Beehive in Wellington.
Teams or individuals have chosen to begin either at Kaitaia north of Whangarei or Five Rivers in Northern Southland and will tackle eight handpicked stages that travel through some of New Zealand’s most iconic landscapes, with much of the route on quiet rural roads.
Lining up on the start lines are riders that include New Zealand’s most successful professional cyclist Julian Dean, legendary ironman Cameron Brown, former cricket international and CEO of NZ Cricket Justin Vaughan and another former Black Cap, now coach of the Wellington Firebirds, Bruce Edgar.
Tour Director Peter Yarrell cannot wait for this year’s event to get started, and says it is hard to believe it will be the fourth Tour of New Zealand. “’Absolutely brilliant’ is what one of the riders yelled at me as she flew down a long descent in the 2015 Tour of New Zealand,” Yarrell said. “These words sum up the feelings of riders about the routes, organization and fun ahead for this year’s Tour. It’s not only a celebration of cycling but a real celebration of the magnificent country we live in.”
Yarrell stresses that although the Tour does have a competitive element, it is at its heart a social event with many of the cyclists raising money for a variety of charities, including the Tear Fund, one of New Zealand’s leading aid and development agencies which is committed to reversing the effects of extreme poverty and currently faced by millions of children around the world.
“It's not always all about the bike, or the cyclist,” Yarrell said. “The Tour of New Zealand supports a number of charities and riders have the option to choose one they wish to personally support. Over $750,000 has been raised through the previous three tours which has meant a huge amount to the charities we support.”
The South Island is full to capacity but 20 spots are still free in the North Island for cyclists still wanting to enter either as part of a team or as an individual.
“Every year we get riders from overseas who are just blown away by our scenery and the amazing riding,” Yarrell said. “We even get Kiwis who discover so much more about New Zealand than they thought possible, it’s pretty special.”
Upon reaching New Zealand’s capital city Wellington on the final day of the tour, the Southern riders will meet Northern riders for a show down criterium race in the grounds of the New Zealand Parliament supported by keen cyclist, MP Trevor Mallard.
One lucky rider will win a Honda Jazz RS Sport car worth almost $30,000 that has already been delivered by Honda NZ to the organisers with its only task before it is awarded being one of the lead vehicles for the tour.