Cycling: NZ teams to contest two major road races

Linda Villumsen. Photo / Greg Bowker
Linda Villumsen. Photo / Greg Bowker

Cycling New Zealand will send road teams to contest two UCI international stage races at home and abroad this month.

Time trial World Champion Linda Villumsen will lead a six-strong New Zealand team to contest the Santos Women's Tour Down Under this month.

Southland's Piet Bulling, part of New Zealand's World Champion team pursuit on the track, will head a men's team to contest the New Zealand Cycle Classic in the Wairarapa later in the month.

The women's tour from January 16-20, which has developed alongside the World Tour event for men, has gained official UCI 2.2 category status this year as well as forming part of the Australian National Road Series.

Villumsen, who rides for United Healthcare team, will be joined by fellow US-based professionals Joanne Kiesanowski and Emily Collins, who both ride for Team TIBCO-SVB.

With the women's season in USA not starting until April, it gives the three Kiwi professionals a kick start to their year.

Villumsen will be in her second year for UHC following her historic world championship win this year, with Collins also in her second year for TIBCO and three-time Olympian Kiesanowski to line up for her eighth straight year with the US organisation.

The New Zealand team includes three young riders comprising Amanda Jamieson (Waipukurau) and Grace Anderson (Auckland) - both starting their first year elite after coming through the development programmes on the road, and Hamilton's Madison Farrant, who experienced a season racing on the road and track in Pennsylvania last year.

The first day on January 16 comprises a 95km loop stage at Mt Torrens in the east Adelaide Hills followed by a criterium in Adelaide's inner city, a 101km stage in the Barossa Valley and final criterium in Victoria Park.

Bulling is joined by fellow high performance track rider Nick Kergozou, current national under-23 road champion Hamish Schreurs, current national time trial champion Michael Vink and Tour of Southland winner Brad Evans.

The UCI sanctioned 2.2 event, which boasts international teams including JLT Condor, the new European based ONE Pro Cycling and Pro Team Downunder, will be run over five days in the Wairarapa from January 20-24.

Stage one over 123km starts and finishes in Masterton with three loops around Gladstone; stage two over 139km from Masterton to Martinborough; stage three of 130lm with nine laps around Masterton; stage four of 152km to finish at the top of Admiral Hill Rd in Gladstone and stage 5 of 122km around the Whangaehu Valley circuit finishing in Masterton.

"These are major events that we have an opportunity to support and offer some of our road riders some strong early season competition especially for those still to return to their professional teams," said Cycling New Zealand development manager Graeme Hunn.

"It is a chance for some of our track riders to rebuild out on the roads as they prepare towards the world championships in March and it is a fantastic opportunity for some of our promising young riders to compete and learn from some of the best."

Before teaming up, the riders will compete in the Big Save Elite National Road Championships in Napier next week.

- NZ Herald

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