A powerful Vantage New Zealand team, dominated by World Tour riders, has been named to contest the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire next month.
Three of the four men named for the road team are currently competing in the Vuelta a Espana, the final Grand Tour of the year, with the three-strong women’s team all with World Tour team experience.
The 17-strong team will compete in the championships from 22 to 30 September, based in Harrogate.
The men’s elite team is led by world top-100 ranked George Bennett (Nelson, Team Jumbo-Visma) who will be joined by Dion Smith (Auckland, Mitchelton-Scott), Patrick Bevin (Taupo, Team CC) and Tom Scully (Invercargill, EF Education First) in the road race. Scully will join Bevin, eighth on debut last year, in the time trial.
Mitchelton-Scott professional Georgia Williams (Auckland) heads the elite women’s team to be joined by Wanaka’s Mikayla Harvey (Bigla Pro Cycling) and Dunedin’s Ella Harris (Canyon SRAM).
“It is a strong group of professional riders who will line-up for New Zealand in Yorkshire,” said Cycling New Zealand high performance director, Martin Barras.
“We do not have the ranking points to allow for a full team, but this is one of the stronger teams of riders both numerically and in quality of their performances this year.
“It is particularly pleasing that we are developing depth in the women’s ranks in terms of young riders who have produced competitive performances for World Tour teams in the cut-and-thrust of tough racing in Europe which is the hot-bed of the sport.”
Barras said the Yorkshire terrain will provide a demanding test without the high mountains and altitude factors of last year’s world championships in Austria.
The talented 21-year-old James Fouche, currently a trainee rider with Mitchelton-Scott, heads the under-23 men’s team. The double national junior champion, who has ridden for Team Wiggins continental team since 2018, is joined by Wanaka’s former mountain biker Paul Wright, the Skoda-Fruzio rider, and Marlborough’s Ethan Batt, a national junior representative.
Oceania road and national time trial champion Ella Wyllie and fellow Auckland rider Stella Nightingale, both part of the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Performance Hub, will compete in the junior women category.
The team is rounded out by an exciting junior men’s group headed by Waikato’s Drew Christensen, Nelson’s Ari Scott and Auckland’s Reuben Thompson, who were part of the national under-19 team that completed a successful campaign in France recently. They are joined by Christchurch’s Logan Currie (Subway Upper South Performance Hub), the national junior time trial champion, and Nelson’s Finn Fisher-Black, the current junior track pursuit world record-holder and Oceania road race and time trial champion.
The Vantage New Zealand team is:
Elite Male: George Bennett (road race), Patrick Bevin (time trial, road race), Tom Scully (time trial, road race), Dion Smith (road race).
Under-23: Ethan Batt (road race), James Fouche (road race, time trial), Paul Wright (road race).
Under-19: Drew Christensen (road race), Logan Currie (Road race, time trial), Finn Fisher-Black (road race, time trial), Ari Scott (road race), Reuben Thompson (road race, time trial).
Elite female: Ella Harris (road race), Mikayla Harvey (road race, time trial), Georgia Williams (road race, time trial).
Under-19: Stella Nightingale (road race), Ella Wyllie (road race, time trial).
The schedule is:
22 September: Team Time Trial Mixed Relay, 28kms; 23 September: Junior male (28kms) and junior female (14km) time trials; 24 September: Under-23 Male (30kms) and Elite Female (30kms) time trial;
25 September: Elite male time trial (54kms); 26 September: Junior male road race (147kms); 27 September: Junior Female (92kms) and Under-23 Male (193kms) road races; 28 September: Elite Female road race (150kms); 29 September: Elite Male road race (285kms).