K2 Cycle Classic.
K2 Cycle Classic.
If K2 were a golf tournament, however, the signature hole would be found just after Thames when riders take on the 425m high Kopu-Hikuai hill. It is here that the race at the front is usually broken open, while further back recreational cyclists have dubbed the big hill “the Bastard”.
Eric Mackenzie, New Zealand’s most accomplished professional cyclists compares K2 to some of the classic European races. “I've ridden many European Classics,” says Mackenzie, “and the K2 round the Coromandel Peninsula is the best comparison you'll get here in New Zealand.”
If this is the case then Denmark’s Linda Villumsen should feel right at home. As one of the brightest young stars on the international scene, the bike is like a second home to the 21 year old. This year she broke through at the highest level when she won the Route de France Feminine, the women’s Tour de France.
Villumsen is currently enjoying her off-season travelling and training in New Zealand. Although far from race fit the Danish champion and European time trial champion is looking forward to racing New Zealand representatives Michelle Hyland, Amy Mosen and Gina Waible.
The men’s race at K2 this year is wide open after Kiwi Olympian Glenn Mitchell, the winner here for the last three years, decided not to return from his US base to defend his K2 streak. Wellington’s Joseph Cooper and Rotorua’s Clinton Avery took under 23 wins in the road race and time trial respectively at the national road championships just last week, and professionals Peter Latham and Logan Hutchings recently scored top 10 placings in the under-23 world time trial championship.
But on the brutally hilly K2 course the surprise package could be relatively unknown Aaron Strong and Scott Lyttle. Strong has been on the fringes of national teams for several seasons but is a class above when the road heads up. Similarly, Wairarapa cyclist Scott Lyttle isn’t well known but for the last two years he has been steadily improving on the French neo-pro circuit. Both riders are what cyclists call “climbers” and can be expected to shake the race up after only 50k when it hits Kopu-Hikuai
As well as the feature 200k K2, organisers also stage an introductory 100k race around half the course and this year have introduced a challenge of true endurance called K4, where extreme endurance junkies can take on two laps and 400k.
Organised by Adventure Racing Coromandel, a community based outdoor events organisation who also organise the popular Moehau Man multisport race, ARC adventure race, Intrigue mountain bike event and the Kauri Run, K2 takes it’s name from the 200km distance and the Coromandel township of Kuaotunu, which in Maori means “to inspire fear in young animals.” And like the mountain with which this challenging new race shares its name, K2 promises to do exactly that.