World track champion Alison Shanks has been selected in a powerful New Zealand team for the NZCT Women's Cycling Tour of New Zealand, which starts in the Wairarapa on February 24.
BikeNZ has put together the cream of the country's women's cycling talent in naming Shanks to ride alongside national road champion Rushlee Buchanan, the accomplished Joanne Kiesanowski, and 2005 tour winner Cath Cheatley, Kaytee Boyd, and a leading European professional, Linda Villumsen, who recently became a Kiwi.
Shanks, a former top provincial netballer, won the 3000m individual pursuit at last year's world track championships, a feat which earned her a spot among the finalists for the women's title at the Halberg sportsperson of the year awards in Auckland this week. She is also a past national road champion, and is likely to excel in the two stages in Palmerston North on the tour's third day, which includes a time trial.
The tour will be Villumsen's first appearance in a New Zealand team, and with her impressive record she will be among the favourites to be first on general classification. Villumsen, 24, has won multiple titles in her native Denmark, plus two European championships, and secured overall victory in the Route de France. She was fifth in the road race at the Beijing Olympic Games, and third in the time trial at last year's world road championships. She is also a member of one of the top professional teams, Columbia HTC.
The 21-year-old Buchanan, of Te Awamutu, has rapidly become one of New Zealand's best young riders. Last month she won the national road title in Christchurch to add to her New Zealand criterium championship. She rides for Team TIBCO, the only UCI registered pro team in the USA.
The quality of the New Zealand team will ensure it is among the most dominant in the tour.
"It's great the national team members will have world class opposition in their own country. It only really happens in my tours," race director Jorge Sandoval said. "It also helps generate greater public interest in the NZCT tour when there are New Zealand riders figuring prominently over the five days."
The tour starts with a 98km stage from Martinborough to Masterton on February 24, before entering new country in going to Palmerton North the following day over the Pahiatua Track. On day three there is an 87km stage from Palmerton to Ashhurst and a 11km time trial in Palmerston, before the riders retrace their steps over the Pahiatua Track in returning to Masterton. The final stage is a criterium in Wellington on February 28.
This is the only women's UCI international event in Oceania.
For further information please contact:
Race director Jorge Sandoval, 0274 464 300 or 04 563 8904