So where do we stand regards our Kiwis as the transfer rumours fly. We thought it’d be a good idea to take a look at our Kiwis across the upper echelons of the World Tour and ProContinental scene, and see who’s going where. First up, who’s staying put in 2018?
Three Kiwi riders in the men’s World Tour & ProContinental ranks are remaining with their teams for certain, with 1 year remaining on their contracts. George Bennett of LottoNL-Jumbo, Aaron Gate of Aqua Blue Sport and Dion Smith of Wanty-Groupe Gobert all have another season ahead of them in their respective teams. And for each of them the 2017 season has been extremely busy.
Aaron Gate – Aqua Blue Sport
As it stands only Aaron Gate of the three has yet to serve grand tour duty in 2017, but that has the potential to change. The final three-week race of the season, the Vuelta a Espana, will see Aqua Blue Sport field a team for the event. The team’s announcement has yet to be made at this stage, and it is also unclear as to whether Gate will be selected for the race. He’s already had a very big year with 50 race days, 9 more than George Bennett. Woven into those 50 race days have been five top ten finishes in New Zealand, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain.
BIG QUESTION: Will Aaron get his first grand tour start at this year’s Vuelta a Espana?
Dion Smith – Wanty-Groupe Gobert
Dion Smith’s year has been busier still, with 72 race days to his name including a grand tour. Dion has certainly made an impact with his performances at the Tour of Catalunya, the Tour de Romandie, Criterium du Dauphine and most recently at the Tour de France. Few will be able to forget that final stage of la Grande Boucle, up and down the Champs-Elysees in the breakaway. In his debut Tour, with the debut Tour team of Wanty-Groupe Gobert; Smith and co had a Tour that they will not easily forget.
BIG QUESTION: The big win is just a question of time surely, where will he get to cross that line with arms held high?
George Bennett – LottoNL-Jumbo
And of course George Bennett, the New Zealand history maker. The first winner of a World Tour event at the Amgen Tour of California, and, until sickness got the better of him, a very strong possibility of being the first ever top ten finisher on the general classification at the Tour de France. Bennett will be biting at the bit to get his own back on grand tour racing at the Vuelta a Espana. Whether or not the Vuelta provides GC success for Bennett, the anticipation for 2018 can be nought but through the roof as he just seems to go from strength to strength.
7th – Abu Dhabi Tour
BIG QUESTION: will George better his 10th overall in the Vuelta a Espana?