Next year's women's cycling tour of New Zealand, to be held in Manawatu in February, has been cancelled after organisers found it too costly to comply with new drug testing rules.
Race director Jorge Sandoval made the announcement this evening and said the mens tour in the region January would go ahead.
New drug testing standards were required by the UCI, cycling's governing body, following the fall out from the Lance Armstrong drug scandal.
"The UCI won't allow Drug Free Sport New Zealand to conduct tests in UCI events in New Zealand, this means they will sent a UCI drugs inspector to New Zealand, we will have to import all testing devices from overseas, do at least 20 tests during the five days of racing, get a license to export human samples overseas, send all samples to a laboratory in Sydney to be tested all at our cost, this is approximately $30,000 per event.
"Although we cannot afford these costs, I fully understand the sport has to take a tough stance and the UCI has no option but to take the lead in finding drug cheats, I am all out for drug testing but we have to put everything into perspective."
"For me this is a hard decision for cycling in New Zealand, especially when we have a very professional organization in this country such as DFSNZ who do a very good job testing sportsman from all activities all the time.
"After hundreds of tests over the last twenty six years, we have never found any rider positive, I think the UCI is using these resources at the wrong end of cycling, they should concentrate these efforts more in the pro tour peloton."
The women's tour was staged in its entirety in Manawatu this year for the first time, three days of the event were held in the region in 2011.
The support Mr Sandoval received from the city in 2011 was instrumental in his decision to bring the men's race to the region this year.
A conservative estimate by Palmerston North City Council put the economic benefit of hosting the two national cycle tours in Palmerston North at more than half a million dollars.
"My team and I had been working hard over the last few months to avoid this but reality must set in. Hopefully if the UCI changes their criteria for doping control in countries like New Zealand we can bring back the women's tour in 2014 bigger and better than before."
"I am not very happy doing this but I rather have one good race than two half ones, now I will put all my efforts in staging another very successful NZCT men's international tour in Manawatu."
Fifteen riders at this year’s women’s tour went on to compete at the London Olympics, including Kristin Armstrong (no relation to Lance) who retained the individual road time trial gold medal.
Judith Arndt claimed silver in that event. She finished ninth in Mr Sandoval’s race this year and won it overall the year before.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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