Organisers of the NZCT New Zealand Cycle Classic have received a welcome Christmas present, with the confirmation that several Australian teams are once again making a strong bid for honours in New Zealand’s premier cycle tour.
Seven high-quality teams from across the ditch have entered the five-day NZCT Cycle Classic. It will be the 27th anniversary of the race, which runs from January 29 to February 2 - 2014.
Leading the charge is newly promoted to UCI Pro Continental status, the Drapac Professional Cycling team, they will be joined by UCI Teams BudgetForklifts Cycling Team and the new Avanti Cycling team (formerly Huon Genesys and winners of the 2013 version) and Australian domestic teams Satalyst Giant Racing Team, the Subaru-Albion team, Data#3 Symantic Racing Team, and the GPM team.
An eighth team made up of four Australians and a Swiss rider entered as individuals finalised the Australian invasion.
This brings to eleven the number of overseas teams taking part in this, New Zealand premier cycle tour and the only UCI 2.2 event in Oceania with the already announced pro teams from England, Singapore and Azerbaijan.
“For the past 26 years we had some fantastic teams and riders coming to the event but we had never had such a large number of overseas teams for any men’s international cycle tour in New Zealand.” Race Director Jorge Sandoval said.
“Over the years I have organised probably the biggest men’s and women’s events in this country, I was happy a few years ago when I run the last Auckland to Wellington and have seven overseas teams in the race, this now shows that our event have an international profile and riders want to be part of it. We could easily have another four overseas teams, including two Italian pro teams but at the end all comes down to money and how many we can accommodate with our small budget” Sandoval said.
Once again the Australians will be hard to beat, they have been racing over the summer months and all teams will come to New Zealand race fit.
The Drapac cycling team is made up of five riders with lots of experience in races all over the world. Dutch rider Floris Goesinnen is one of them, being a professional since 2006 with the highly ranked pro continental team Skill Shimano, has competed with distinction over the years in major European tours and one day races such as tours of Belgium, Denmark, Tour of Britain as well as one of the world hardest cycling event the Paris-Nice and the famous one day race Paris-Roubaix.
The rest of the Australian most popular cycling team are also very seasoned top pro riders with lots of European experience. Adam Phelan who has also represented Australia at the last two World Championships, rode in Italy and other European races for the last two years. Robbie Hucker is a tough young rider who has competed in races made up of some of the biggest mountains in the world in Asia such as tour of Qinghai and Tour of Hainan among others.
Malcolm Rudolph and hill climber Jai Crawford completes the Drapac Pro team.
Among the other seven teams announced today, all of them have top Australian riders in their line ups. The Giant squad contains Pat Shaw and Kane Walker, both former members of the overall winning squad at last year’s Cycle Classic.
Team Budgetforklifts feature three times New Zealand champion Michael Vink, and 2011 New Zealand time trial champion Westley Gough.
The new Avanti Cycling Team (formerly Genesys Wealth Advisers) featuring Australian 2011 National champion Benjamin Dyball who also finish second on general classification at the 2013 NZCT Cycle Classic .
The team Subaru Albion feature Irish rider Anthony Murray, his sporting background encompasses national representation in Gaelic football, Adventure Racing and Duathlon. Murray was a 2006 National Irish representative Gaelic football and Duathlon national champion before concentrating in road cycling.
Team GPM is well known to many New Zealand cycling fans and is returning to the 2014 version of the event. Last year’s King of the mountains champion Chris Jory is leading a very experienced team with Daniel Bonello, Jesse Ewart, Edward White and Caleb Jones.
Jacob Kauffmann is also returning to New Zealand, this time with his new team Data#3 Symantec Racing Team, other members are David Melville, Michael Cupitt, Correy Edmed and Kyle Bridgwood.
A New Zealand road national team will be announced over the next few days as well as the rest of the field made up of Kiwi riders.
The 2014 NZCT Cycle Classic starts on Wednesday 29th January with a Time trial in the city of Palmerston North and finish four days later with a 170km stage from Palmerston North to Wairarapa via the Pahiatua track and then finishing at the top of Saddle Hill in the Manawatu.