Amber Neben, the world time trial champion in Varese, Italy, in 2008, is leading a powerful United States national team in the NZCT Women's Cycle Tour of New Zealand from February 24 to 28.
Neben, 35, has fashioned an impressive record, and is the only active American woman cyclist with multiple stage wins in UCI-sanctioned events. After recurring stress fractures ended her running career when at university she started mountain biking with family friends before discovering her talents were best suited to the road. That included being chosen in the US team for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 when mechanical failure ruined her efforts. However, soon after that disappointment faded when she won the world time trial title. That year she was also second overall in the Giro de Italia, and in 2009 she won the time trial in that event.
In 2003 she was the US road race champion, and has twice won the Tour de l'Aude (in 2005 and 2006), and the Route de France in 2007. Andrea Dvorak, a qualified lawyer, has won stage races in the US, and has also competed in the Giro de Italia. She is expected to be prominent in the hills, which will be vital to her success in the NZCT tour. Team-mate Jessica Phillips won the US road race in 2002, and became the time trial champion last year, and the three others in the team, Janel Holocombe, Shelley Evans and Alison Starnes, are all well performed. Holcombe has been preparing by competing in this month's Tour of Qatar.
This squad looks likely to push the NZCT New Zealand team, Rochelle Gilmore's Lotto line-up, and the best of the Australian teams, but tour director, Jorge Sandoval, is also delighted to have teams from China, Japan, including the national squad, and Norway.
"The Norwegian, Chinese and Japan teams all have Olympic representatives looking to make an impression here," Sandoval said. "With the number and standard of the overseas riders it ensures the NZCT tour continues to grow in terms of its international profile. All the hard work we have done in the last few years to make people aware of the tour, and the standard of racing, is paying off."
The NZCT sponsored event starts in the Wairarapa on February 24 with a stage from Martinborough to Masterton, and day two goes over the Pahiatua Track to Palmerston North, a new innovation. The rider's race in the Manawatu on day three before returning to Masterton, via the Pahiatua Track, on day four, and the final stage is a criterium on Lambton Quay in Wellington on February 28.
For more information please contact Jorge Sandoval on 0274 464 300