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Top junior cyclists off to Belgium
Dec 16th, 09. Two of New Zealand's best junior cyclists Michael Vink and Ruaraidh McLeod have signed up with a top Belgium cycling team, Isorex, for the 2010 road season.
Vink and McLeod, both 18 and both from the Christchurch area, are understandably excited about this massive opportunity.
The deal was brokered between their coach, Terry Gyde, with the help of Pro Tour Director Sportiffe, Allan Peiper of Team Columbia HTC - the team Greg Henderson has successfully ridden for over the past 3 years and who Hayden Roulston has recently signed for - and Andrew McQuaid, who is a top manager of professional cyclists in Europe.
"This is a massive opportunity for the young riders who have both medalled at Junior World level," Coach Gyde told RoadCycling.co.nz.
"Their training and race data was sent to Team Columbia, and the team were so impressed they are prepared to invest in the two riders over the next year or two, with the view that if the riders can make the required standard, as their potential shows, they would be interested in signing them in the future as professional riders."
"To this end Peiper has been talking with Isorex, and worked on a great race schedule for the boys, which will help develop them progressively," he said.
Michael Vink - "living the dream"
"This is what I've always wanted and worked towards, which makes it very exciting to know I will actually be 'living the dream'. There really is nothing more I could ask for," Vink told RoadCycling.co.nz
Vink is contracted to New Zealand registered UCI Continental team Subway Avanti Pro Cycling for 2010 and will continue to race for them when he is in New Zealand. He plans on being in Belgium from about March 20 through to late August.
Subway Avanti Pro Cycling Team Manager Greg Hume says although it's not ideal Vink isn't here for the entire season he understands the pull to Europe.
"It is important for his development. Obviously the European scene offers a far better product than New Zealand ever will due to its events, popularity and traditions," he said.
Ruaraidh McLeod - "an amazing opportunity"
"The team is based in a small town about 10kms out of Gent, Belgium. Michael Vink and I will be staying there and boarding with a family for the season," McLeod told RoadCycling.co.nz
"I can't wait to go over there, it's an amazing opportunity that I've been given thanks to my coach and a few other guys he's been working with to make it happen."
McLeod, who has been concentrating on the track for the last few years will ride the Track Nationals in February where he's looking forward to his first outing in the 4000m individual pursuit.
"After that I get a whole season to focus on the road, which I haven't done before, so that's another new thing to look forward to. Once I've settled into the racing style in Belgium I hope I can mix it up in some of the races," he said.
The 2010 plans come off the back of a successful short stint in France where the duo had some top results, including a 1-2 finish in a French Under 19 selection race with 140 riders in the field.
The French were impressed and were also looking at teams for the young riders.
Their coach Terry Gyde says this is a great opportunity for Vink and McLeod to fullfill their ambitions of becoming professional road cyclists in the future. Team Isorex will provide them with opportunities to race in Belgium and France and develop over the next year.
"From there, we already have two solid team options in 2011, one is to race for a top French Team, and the other is to race for a Continental Professional Team in Belgium, and we are in communication with them at present, " said Gyde.
"It will depend on how well the boys progress. Then ultimately we are hoping Columbia HTC will take the boys on if they reach the level required to be professional cyclists."
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