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Tour of Wellington
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The Trust House Cycle Classic celebrates its twentieth third anniversary in 2010 and it has been twenty three years of evolution from a two day event, run as the Angus Inn Cycle Classic in 1988 to the major international event it is today, run under the valuable sponsorship of Trust House.

Darien Rush was the dominant rider in the 1988 event, winning four of the five stages and taking overall victory.

Commonwealth and Olympic Games representative Brian Fowler then made the tour his own, winning the next four events. In 1991 the tour cemented itself on the New Zealand sporting calendar when Race Director Jorge Sandoval moved the Tour to Easter, lengthened it to four days and seven stages, and gained extensive television coverage. After a closely fought race, Fowler pipped one of his great rivals, Graeme Miller, by 13 seconds, with Rush returning to take third.

In 1993 the race took another huge leap forward. Another day was added, another four stages included - but more importantly there was a top international field. A total of 125 riders from five countries fought it out with the best New Zealand can offer.

According to long time cycling promoter, Australian Bill Long, the Classic had set the standard.

"The biggest field I have ever seen for any international cycle race in Australasia", Long said.

One of the greatest overseas riders to take part in the event was four times, and then World Champion Danny Clark. Clark was the first current professional World Champion to race on New Zealand soil.

Another milestone came in 1994 when the event was staged as a teams event for the first time. It also cemented itself as a major international event with the race gaining widespread national and international media coverage.

In 1995, the tour, known as the Smokefree Cycle Classic, dominated the sports news over the Easter weekend, Australian Robbie McEwan won the event. McEwen is now a highly rated sprinter in Europe and won three stages and the Sprints jersey for the third time in the 2006 Tour de France. International riders from seven countries participated in the 1995 tour.

The 1999 event was one of the biggest cycling events ever staged in New Zealand. For the first time the tour was on the UCI calendar as a 2.5 event and attracted teams from The Netherlands, USA, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, Italy (Amore & Vita), The Czech Republic and Belgium. Fifty riders from New Zealand also made up the field, including Julian Dean, a professional with the US Postal team. Dean proved too classy for the international field by winning the Tour.

In 2001 the event was also on the UCI calendar and was won by top rated New Zealand professional rider Chris Jenner, who went on to ride in the 2001 Tour de France with prestige.

Race Director Jorge Sandoval MNZM has been the organiser of all 23 tours.

source: www.cycletournz.com

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