Sandoval confident of return of NZ Women’s Tour

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Linda Villumsen soloed to victory in the final stage of the 2012 Women's Tour of New Zealand (Mark Gunter)

New Zealand Cycle Classic race director Jorge Sandoval is confident of the return of the Women’s Tour of New Zealand, after a two year absence.

I don’t want to say that we will definitely have a women’s tour next year, but I am quite confident that next year there will be a women’s tour.

The UCI 2.2 tour, the only UCI-ranked women’s tour in Oceania, was cancelled in 2013 due to the high cost of drug testing while a lack of sponsorship prevented the race returning in 2014.

“One of the main reasons why we stopped the women’s tour in the first place was for the high cost of drug testing,” Sandoval told Cycling Central.

“The UCI didn’t allow the Drug Free Sport NZ agency to do the testing at this event in New Zealand and they wanted to send their own testers. For us that would have been about $40,000 or $50,000 worth of drug testing.”

“We’ve got the Drug Free Sport NZ Agency so why shouldn’t they be able to be allowed to do the testing? It’s politics between those two.”

Increased cooperation from the UCI and Drug Free Sport NZ saw the New Zealand agency running the testing at the recent New Zealand Cycle Classic.

“We are looking forward to working together next year - it is really important for us to bring the women’s tour back to New Zealand,” Sandoval said.

Sponsorship and funding has been an on-going issue for the women’s race, but Sandoval is hopeful of an improvement in that area to allow the five-day race to get back on its feet.

“This year the issue was funding - we didn’t have companies wanting to support us. Some people came forward at the last minute but it was too late. I don’t want to say that we will definitely have a women’s tour next year, but I am quite confident that next year there will be a women’s tour."

Like many, Sandoval berates the lack of media coverage that women’s racing receives.

“For the men’s race we get television coverage, publicity and everything. For the women’s, we’ve got the best in the world - world champions, Olympic champions - and the media never turns up. It’s frustrating because for any sponsorship for the women’s tour they want publicity and we don’t have it."

The event, which has been run since 2005, attracts the world's best female road cyclists. Evelyn Stevens of the US National Team won the 2012 edition of the event, one second ahead of former Australian time trial champion Shara Gillow (Orica-AIS).

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