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Top Field for Le Race
22 Mar, 2013

A strong men's field will mean Christchurch cyclist Sam Horgan will have a tough job defending his title in the gruelling 100 kilometre Christchurch to Akaroa Le Race on Saturday.
The former Subway Pro Cycling team member, who now rides for Australian Continental team Budget Forklifts, has five Kiwi members of the UK UCI Continental team Node4, Mike Northey, Daniel Barry, James Williamson, Roman van Uden and Shem Rodger to contend with along with a number of top domestic riders.
 
Northey in particular has been in great form over the New Zealand summer winning the Powernet Tour of Southland, the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge and last week's Tour of Northland and challenging the top of the podium in particularly every event he has entered in New Zealand over the summer. 

Former New Zealand road champ Williamson will be looking for some form before heading overseas to start his first season with Node4 as will local rider Barry. Van Uden won Stage 13 of Tour of Murray River in September while Rodgers has been off the bike since May after suffering a hip injury while racing in Malaysia.
 
Christchurch based rider and BikeNZ men's track endurance squad member Michael Vink is a former winner of Le Race and holds the course record on the slightly longer pre earthquake route. He comfortably won last month's challenging Great Divide road race in Canterbury, an event with a similar amount of climbing.

Paul Odlin won the Oceania elite time trial title in Australia last week, and was leading Horgan on the final descent of last year's race with only a crash on the final corner wiping out his chances of taking the win.

Hamish Schreurs (Benchmark Homes) was third last year and the young Christchurch junior national representative continues to improve and should feature again this year as should fulltime triathete Tom Davidson, who showed he could match it with the best cyclists when he finished a credible fifth in Le Race last year.

Ben Johnston (16) has recently moved to Christchurch from Northland, and the young New Zealand under 17 team member is a very good hill climber who should not be taken lightly by his more experienced competition. 

20-year-old former Marlborough cyclist Cameron Karwowski, who now lives in Invercargill, and his Bike NZ high performance squad team mate Pieter Bulling are two potential dark horses. The well performed track cyclists may find the hilly course challenging, but both have good results on the road as well. Belgian-Holland based continental team 3M have picked Karwowski up for the European road racing season, and he rode for the Marco Polo team last year.
 
Karwowski and Bulling both featured in the young riders' category at last year's Tour of Ireland and both are focused on a long-term goal of being selected as part of the New Zealand track team for the Rio Olympics in 2016.
 
Benchmark Homes rider Hayley Mercer and national junior representative Sophie Williamson lead the women's entries. Mercer was second in last year's race behind Otago's Reta Trotman and Williamson, who has signed with US pro team Vanderkitten, is on the comeback trail after injury earlier in the year.
 
Both riders will face tough competition from Jeanette Gerrie, a former elite mountain biker who is back riding after serious injury last year, Benchmark Homes team mates Julia Grant, Marewa Kraak and Sharlotte Lucas and veteran Tracy Clark. 

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