The list of high quality riders entered for the January 26 to 30 Trust House Cycle Classic in Wellington and the Wairarapa continues to grow.
Hard on the heels of the announcement of four classy Australian professional teams—Team Jayco-AIS, Genesys Wealth Advisers, Drapac Porsche, and Suzuki—race director Jorge Sandoval today confirmed another Australian team, Bikebug.com, is returning to compete against several strong New Zealand squads led by Cardno, Armstrong Motor Group, Trust House, Subway, New Zealand under-23, and late entry Pure Black.
Bikebug will be represented by the emerging talents of Geoff Straub, Chris Jory, Alex Malone, Sam Rutherford and Phil Grenfell.
Southlander Tom Scully will head the Orbea team of Scott Mullaly, Fraser Bermingham, Ben Oleson and Matt Robinson. Scully is among a group of exciting young New Zealand cyclists that is rapidly making a mark internationally. He is a double World Cup track gold medallist, and is about to join the elite under-23 American team Slipstream Sports, the same organisation that top New Zealand rider Julian Dean competes for.
The strong Trust House team is made up of overseas riders; Dutchman Koos Jeroen Kers leads the team with Australians Reuben Donati, Dylan Wallis, Aidan Mackenzie and Tom Donald.
Leading New Zealand cycling coach John Lee has selected a competitive Cardno squad that includes one of New Zealand’s best hill-climbers, George Bennet, of Blenheim, and Tom David, Alex Meenhorst, Justin Kerr, and Wade Mangham. Last year’s tour victor, Michael Torckler, rode for the Cardno team on that occasion. A bad crash is preventing him competing this time.
Current New Zealand under-23 road champion Michael Vink is a late entry for the tour, and will ride for the R+R team made up of youngsters Matthew Talbot, James Early, Dillon Bennet and Nathan Tuck. Vink has being signed by American Lance Armstrong under - 23 team Trek Livestrong.
The New Zealand under-23 team contains the national under-23 time trial champion in Christchurch last week, Jason Christie, Shane Archibald, Aaron Gate, Cameron Karwowski and Myron Simpson.
With Subway and Pure Black the only UCI registered New Zealand teams they are certain to confirm strong line-ups’. Despite failing to enter on time Sandoval decided it was in the riders’ and New Zealand cycling’s best interests to allow Pure Black to take part. The classic is an important part of the fledging team’s development. Sandoval predicted the tour would be a baptism of fire for it.
“Australian professional teams and to some extent, Subway, have been around for a while,” Sandoval said. “They know what’s involved and how to prepare for and race tours like the Trust House classic. When it starts reputations and all the team talks mean nothing. The Australian teams are battle-hardened, and will be serious contenders for any local team. I think Pure Black is in for a rude wakening.
“I’m satisfied we have a fantastic field with a variety of race experience. There are a large number of young up and coming riders, who will use the classic to push their claims to represent their country in big international events.”