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Queen of the Mountain back for a hat-trick
Feb 8th, 11. NZCT Women's Tour of NZ two time Queen of the Mountain Ruth Corset leads a strong Australian contingent to race in this month's tour.
Race director Jorge Sandoval today announced Corset was amongst a record 34 riders from across the Tasman who will line up for the six stage UCI event, the only UCI women's tour in Oceania.
While it was the Americans who dominated last year's stage wins and the top of the GC, the Australian mother was undeniably the Queen of the Mountain for the second year in a row.
The then 32 year old strung out the peloton behind her as she powered up the first climb, Te Wharau Hill, before defending her title throughout the tour. She also finished 4th in the General Classification.
Since her last Kiwi Queen of the Mountain success, Corset rode with Team Tibco (along with Kiwi Jo Kiesanowski) where she raced over the mountains of Europe as well as the US.
This year, Corset is headlining the Australia Institute of Sport (AIS) team, one of four Australian teams entered for the tour. Another 10 Australian riders will be found places in composite teams.
Along with Corset, the AIS Team includes two other members of the Australian UCI World Road Championship team, Amanda Spratt and Shara Gillow, plus 2011 Australian Criterium Champion Lauren Kitchen, 2010 Australian Criterium Champion Carly Light and Alex Carle.
Corset, Spratt and Kitchen will come to New Zealand with great early season form having just completed the Ladies Tour of Qatar. All six riders competed in the 2010 NZCT Women's Tour of NZ.
“To have such strength from Australia is great for the tour, and with the riders having competed fulltime for the last month they will arrive race-fit,” Sandoval said. “They will be tough opposition for the highly-fancied Team HTC Highroad.”
HTC Highroad's lineup has yet to be announced, but given the strength of the riders on their squad they are likely to be the highly favoured team for the tour win. The New Zealand team is expected to be announced in the coming days.
The riders will complete three stages over the following two days, including a criterium in Palmerston North, before the finale occurs on February 27 with a one-hour criterium on the Lambton Quay circuit of Wellington city.
Last year's tour started with 108 riders, but only 20 finished - mainly thanks to the final stage criterium where so many riders were pulled from the field. Ominously, the AIS team was the only team to finish the tour with all six riders.
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