A huge crowd is expected to line Bank St tomorrow when stage three of the Grassroots Trust New Zealand Cycle Classic finishes next to Te Awamutu Bowling Club about 1.55pm.
Stage three of the five-stage event starts at 10am at Albert Park with a 3km neutralised start along Park Rd, Golf Rd, Cambridge Rd which the riders roll through slowly before the racing gets under way on Puahue Rd.
The 152km stage takes the riders through Parawera, Wharepapa South, Kōrakonui, Ngaroma, Te Kawa and Pōkuru.
All eyes will be on hometown hero Hayden McCormick as he attempts to retain the Classic title he won last year in the Wairarapa.
The Cambridge-based GD Pringle presented Spoken Cycles team of Alex Heaney, Michael Torckler, Logan Griffin, James Harvey, Liam Cappel and Theo Gilbertson will also have a big local following.
Putting on a cycle tour takes a huge amount of organisation.
There's traffic safety to take care of, sponsorship to arrange, shuttling the overseas teams around and looking after a thousand and one details to create a world class event that attracts top international teams.
Jorge Sandoval, founder of the New Zealand Cycle Classic, says it was a challenge to him to create the event from people who didn't think he could do it.
"But I did it. I just never thought it would get so big."
Originally based around Wellington and Lower Hutt, it moved up to the Manawatū before being based in the Wairarapa until 2018. This year the tour is being held for the first time in the Waipā district.
It takes almost a year of fulltime work to get the Classic ready to go.
There's the race route, the traffic management plans, meeting with the local authority for permits, arranging the sponsorship, booking accommodation for the riders, asking race officials to officiate at the race, and getting the overseas teams to come to New Zealand.
"The key responsibility is always safety of the cyclists and making sure they don't meet any vehicular-related obstacles," says Sandoval.
"The riders have to go 120 to 150km, through residential streets and country roads, down dangerous hills, with some riders still getting use to riding on what to them is the wrong side of the road.
"The last five kilometres of every race is so carefully controlled so there is no car on the road against the traffic. Luckily every year we get the support of many people and it works perfectly."
Well, almost perfectly. Some people don't like having "their" roads blocked off for a race and they don't mind telling Sandoval.
"Over the years I've been abused by 80-year-old ladies and 15-year-old punks asking what the eff am I doing and I should bugger off.
"It's all water off a duck's back to me now," he laughs.
After nine months' work, and with two days to go, he hands all of the running of the event over to the officials from Cycling NZ and the UCI international referee.
"There is a good team of race officials who come in from all around the country and they take over," says Sandoval.
"From then on I just drive around and watch the race, making sure everything goes to plan.
"I have full confidence in our race officials, traffic management and the race officials."
Sandoval says the economic impact of an international race for the region is huge.
"We bring thousands of dollars into the Waipā. And more than that, because the race stages go right through the whole region, television coverage of the event promotes the region to the world."
This year they will have video packages ready to go out after each day's racing that will reach a lot more people and there will be TV coverage going to Asia, Australia Switzerland and the rest of Europe.