The cycling world’s most successful team in recent times, Team HTC Highroad, has entered the NZCT women’s tour of New Zealand from February 23 to 27 through Wellington, the Wairarapa and Manawatu. Race director Jorge Sandoval is thrilled with the news.
“Having a team currently considered to be one of the best in world racing in New Zealand again is great for the sport, and the women’s tour,” Sandoval said. “We all know about the boys in the team, with riders like Mark Cavendish and our own Hayden Roulston, and the women’s squad has a similarly impressive roster led by Germans Judith Arndt, the tour winner in 2007, and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg.
“The women’s tour field is already looking among the best we’ve ever had, and that’s fantastic for everyone involved. The better we can make it the more international exposure for the race and New Zealand.”
HTC’s riders have a remarkable record for winning leading races worldwide, and the depth in their squads has been emphasised by the high number of their individuals who have tasted victory.
The 2011 women’s roster of 13 has been drawn from seven countries, and those named for the New Zealand event are Germans Arndt and Teutenberg, Americans Amber Neben, Ally Stacher and Amanda Miller, and Australian Chloe Hosking.
“We are committed to athletes from wherever they come,” says team owner Bob Stapleton. “One of the simple pleasures of this team is its international diversity, and the personal character each athlete brings to it.”
Arndt is regarded in the women’s peloton as one of the best and most consistent riders there are. She has been German champion 18 times across road and track, a former world champion in the pursuit and road race, and an Olympic Games medallist in both. There have been victories in World Cup rounds in addition to stage wins in the women’s Tours of France and Italy.
Fellow German Teutenberg is similarly experienced, and is known for her fiery personality. She started cycling at the tender age of six because she didn’t want to miss out on anything her elder brothers did, and from a young age she was beating older, bigger boys. Her strength is in the sprints, but her preference is to make the racing hard, and win as the result of being in a break. In recent years she has won multiple World Cup races, and over the years stages in several of the big women’s tours, including three in the 2007 New Zealand women’s tour. She was outstanding internationally in 2008 and 2009, securing 24 victories in both those years.
Neben has been a professional since 2002, and her successes have included being world time trial champion in 2008. However, it was only by chance she became a racing cyclist. “I was on a track and cross-country (athletics) scholarship at the University of Nebraska but I had multiple stress fractures,” says Neben. “I just could not train at the level necessary to compete so I stopped running, and started mountain bike riding.”
Stacher came to cycling in her senior year at high school to use it as cross-training for wrestling, and to assist in her research for a project into endurance sports. Miller is a promising newcomer to HTC, coming to the notice of the team with good rides in the Tour of Italy as a member of the US national squad. Miller says she excels on the climbs, ideal for the demands of the NZ Community Trust event.
Hosking, another newcomer to HTC, describes herself as a “pure sprinter” who aspires to rival the fastest finishers in the women’s peloton, including team-mate Teutenberg, and Kirsten Wild.