Whanganui's Glenn Haden and Brendon Sharratt will be in the Bike Box team entering the 2018 Gravel & Tar Classic – the international cycle event with UCI status is being held in Manawatu on January 27

Gravel & Tar achieved UCI 1.2 status for the first time this year, attracting riders from as far away as the United Kingdom who can build up their UCI points rankings ahead of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

It is a 130km multi-surface cycling event, with support races being the 70km Gran Fondo and the 35km River Path Challenge, which follows parts of the same course.

Haden came third in the 2017 feature race, which is known for it's tough off-road section with climbs and descents over 40km of gravel.

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He was also impressive on the Tour of New Caledonia in October.

Sharratt, the reigning NZ Cyclocross champion, has just returned from a European campaign where he has been competing at the top level of off-road cycling.

Mixing that experience with proven road racing ability could make him a dark horse.

Their team mates are 2016 NZ Junior road representative Liam Cappell and time trial specialists Steve Nichols and Ben Earnshaw.