New Zealand's women track stars are putting their faith in cutting-edge Kiwi technology to help them reach the podium in this year's London Olympics.
BikeNZ has signed a sponsorship agreement to use the Evo II from Avanti Bikes, a super-sleek time-trial and track-racing bike that has been three years in the making.
Team pursuit members, led by individual world champion Alison Shanks, have put the bikes through their paces in training camps and competition, while testing has shown the New Zealand-designed and engineered machines to be world class.
"Our London campaign is four years in the making with a massive investment from riders, coaches and support staff and a major outlay from Sparc," said BikeNZ High performance director Mark Elliott. "We do everything we can to ensure our riders can go as fast as possible in London.
"One of the key components is the bike. We are delighted with our partnership with Avanti on the Pista Evo II bikes. We've not selected them because the company is from New Zealand. We've done so because they give us absolute world-class machinery and technology."
The Pista Evo II is an evolution of the Avanti Zeus design that Sarah Ulmer rode to a world record and a gold medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
"Basically we decided to start with a blank sheet of paper," said Avanti product manager Stephen James. "We wanted to produce a track bike that was lighter than the others on the market, was stiffer and with less aerodynamic drag."
The first upgrade models had immediate success. Shanks rode the Pista Evo II to a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, while Cameron Brown rode the road version to his 10th Ironman New Zealand victory. Both riders, along with other contracted riders, would play a significant role in testing and feedback.
Avanti began with the all-important benchmarking process in the wind tunnel in San Diego. Then the design team, helped by design engineers David Higgins and Larisa Marsh and industrial designer Jaime McLellan, began to work on computer modelling.
The design team then developed this into their full design before a final prototype was taken to the A2 wind tunnel in Mooresville, North Carolina, for final testing. "The results could not have been better. Against all of the current models on the market, the Evo II achieved everything we wanted. It is stiffer, it is more aerodynamic and it is lighter."
The women's pursuit team are fully at home on the bikes and Avanti has worked closely with the team mechanics and riders for important feedback. Shanks said the bikes were now dialled in and the squad was thrilled with the equipment. "We want to go to London knowing we have bikes that are world class."