Former world champion Hayden Godfrey is a late entry for Le Race after missing selection in the New Zealand track team for next week’s UCI World Track Championships in Denmark.
The 2008 Omnium World Champion was knocked off his bike in Christchurch early last month, putting his arm through a car windscreen which required surgery meaning he missed valuable training and race time.
“I have been training for short events on the track but I have still got very good form which should see me be able to help my Subway Avanti Team mates who are all very motivated for Le Race,” he said.
“Obviously I would have rather be going to the world champs but I’m excited at the opportunity to compete in one of the iconic local cycling events.”
Godfrey joins his Subway – Avanti Cycling team mates Gordon McCauley, Michael Vink, Ryan Wills, Sam Horgan and Joe Cooper in the 100 kilometre race this Saturday.
“Gordon proved from last weekend’s R and R tour in Dunedin he is on good form. Vink is going to want to stretch his legs after missing the R and R tour to do the TV show What Now on the weekend and Cooper is a hill climbing machine when he's on form, although he hasn’t raced for a bit, but if he's on he will be hard to beat.”
Another late entry is nine time Speight’s Coast to Coast winner Steve Gurney who says he is looking forward to ‘riding’ the event rather than racing it as he’s not race fit.
"Le Race is legendary, one of those rides you set a goal for,” he said.
“The hills keep riders really honest, there's no escaping the test, and the hills tell the truth about how fit riders are, and of course, what goes up, must come down - wickedly fast, long descents.”
Gurney has done the event four times, twice on a tandem and twice in fancy dress, and says he is looking forward to the social elements, and riding amongst the “enthusiastic folks that have come from all around the country.”
Leading contenders for line honours include last year’s Coffee Culture King of the Mountain winner Paul Oldin, McCauley, Vink, Cooper, Anthony Chapman, (Ultimo Cycling team), Brad McFarlane (Thule Cycling Team) and Brett Dawber ((Benchmark Homes Team) who is returning after a layoff but was third last year and is a well performed hill rider.
Leading Australian professional cyclist Carla Ryan from the Cervélo – Lifeforce team is the heavy favourite in the woman’s field that also includes Wellington’s Rachel Mercer, retired professional and three time winner Jo Buick, Sia Svendsen (Thule Cycling Team) and Amanda Minty (Warmup Cycling Team).