BikeNZ has named a powerful team built around their Pro Tour riders to make one of their strongest squads ever for the upcoming UCI World Road Cycling Championships in Melbourne.
Pro Tour riders Julian Dean (Garmin Transitions), Hayden Roulston (HTC Colombia) and Greg Henderson (Team Sky) are included in a six-strong squad to contest the men’s road race.
The women’s team is led by HTC Colombia pro rider Linda Villumsen and new US National Series champion Cath Cheatley in a six-strong combination.
“This is probably the strongest team overall that we have ever selected for the Road World Championships with potential medal opportunities,” said BikeNZ Road Programme Sporting Director, Andy Reid.
New Zealand has qualified three riders to start in each of the men and under-23 road races and two in the time trial, while the women have qualified six starters in the road race and two in the time trial.
With the women’s road season drawing to an end, the selectors have finalised their women’s team but the final three riders for the elite men’s race will be named just before the event.
“The selectors decided on a squad of six as our riders are still competing in a number of high profile races around the world and as we have seen at the Vuelta a Espana with Julian, injuries can occur in this sport,” said BikeNZ Road Programme Sporting Director, Andy Reid.
“We expect that our Pro-Tour riders will form the basis of this team if they make it through the next two weeks of racing with a clean bill of health.
“It was particularly challenging selecting the team because we have such a strong group of riders starting to come through as well as proven performers on the world stage.”
Joining Dean, Henderson and Roulston in the men’s squad is national champion Jack Bauer, US-based professional Jeremy Vennell and national time trial champion Gordon McCauley, who will ride in this event at the Commonwealth Games.
Villumsen, third in the time trial at last year’s world championship, will enjoy her first worlds in New Zealand colours since switching allegiances from Denmark earlier this year. She is joined by the in-form Cheatley to spearhead the women’s team along with experienced Tony Bradshaw (Counties Manukau) and Serena Sheridan (Hawkes Bay) along with two emerging young riders Courteney Lowe (Tauranga) and Emma Crum (Auckland).
National champion Melissa Holt (Cambridge) and Villumsen will compete in the time trial, which they will also ride in Delhi,
Talented Christchurch rider Michael Vink, George Bennett (Nelson) and Jason Christie (Ashburton) have been selected for the under-23 with Vink and Cambridge rider Shem Rodger to tackle the time trial.
The time trial forunder-23 men and women takes place on Wednesday 29 September with the elite men the following day. The under 23-men’s road race in Geelong is on Friday 1 October, the women on Saturday 2 October and the men, who start in downtown Melbourne before joining the testing circuit in Geelong is on Sunday 3 October.
Elite men (three from): Julian Dean (Rotorua), Hayden Roulston (Christchurch), Greg Henderson (Melbourne), Jack Bauer (Nelson), Jeremy Vennell (Hawkes Bay), Gordon McCauley (Auckland).
Time trial (two from): McCauley, Vennell, Bauer.
Elite women: Cath Cheatley (Wanganui), Linda Villumsen (Auckland), Toni Bradshaw (Counties Manukau), Serena Sheridan (Hawkes Bay), Emma Crum (Auckland), Courteney Lowe (Tauranga).
Time trial: Melissa Holt, Villumsen.
Under-23: Michael Vink (Christchurch), Jason Christie (Ashburton), George Bennett (Nelson). Reserves: James Williamson (Alexandra) and Shem Rodger (Cambridge).