14 Nov 2011

Gorge closure forces big change to cycle classic

7:14 pm on 14 November 2011

Continued landsides in the Manawatu Gorge have forced a big change to the second stage of January's New Zealand Cycle Classic.

Tour of Manawatu race director Jorge Sandoval has had to scrap plans to use the Saddle Road road as a key part of the January 26 stage.

He says uncertainty over when the gorge will reopen means it might not be possible close the alternate route between Wairarapa and Manawatu for four hours that day.

So instead of a top of the mountain finish on the Saddle the new stage two up Vinegar Hill will include more climbs and to a higher altitude.

Sandoval says the change means stages two and three are likely to decide the overall winner as the third has nine climbs and there'll be 41 kilometres of climbing over the two days.