The list of world class riders entered in this month’s Grassroots Trust New Zealand Cycle Classic continues to grow. Race Director Jorge Sandoval says the newly formed Irish EvoPro Racing team will make their debut for the 2019 season in the New Zealand Cycle Classic, a five-stage elite international men’s road cycling race being staged entirely in the Waikato region from January 23rd – 27th. The Classic is the only Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) 2.2 sanctioned race to be held in New Zealand in 2019.
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Sandoval says EvoPro Racing is made up of international riders with experience in the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and other world class cycle races. Principle among the international element is Dutch world class sprinter Wouter Wippert. The Santos Tour Down Under stage winner joins experienced Kiwi track-road cyclists Shane Archbold and Aaron Gate, the latter who was crowned King of the mountains in the 2018 Tour of Austria and former junior world track champion Luke Mudgway. British-Kiwi rider Daniel Whitehouse, a hill climbing specialist, and Irishman Matthew Teggart complete the team.
“This is a formidable selected team with lots of experience in stage racing,” says Sandoval. “Any of them could win the 2019 Grassroots Trust New Zealand Cycle Classic and I believe this will be the team to watch every day.”
Forming a new pro team is a huge task says EvoPro team manager/owner Morgan Fox.
“The New Zealand Cycle Classic is our first primary objective for 2019. We want to win and we are not hiding the fact. We have riders on the team who have excelled in the past at the race so we should expect a strong performance from EvoPro,” says Fox.
“Archbold and Gate are key riders on our team. Loads of experience and intelligence will make them a force to be reckoned with. Whitehouse and Mudgway are capable of big results. They are young and under the guidance of Shane and Gatey will be expected to deliver their own results and play key team roles. Our countries Ireland and New Zealand have always been closely linked and even population wise being almost identical. We both punch above our weight on the world stage. That’s why I looked to New Zealand talent to form a core part of our team,” says Fox.
Wippert will lead the team looking for stage wins on this, his first race of the season in a new team. After taking 35 international flights, cycling 22349 kilometres on his bike and racing in 66 races in 2018, he is looking at this tour to get the ball rolling in 2019.
In 2014, Wippert was offered a professional contract and a great opportunity with Drapac Pro Cycling to finally make his hobby his career and to grow as a professional cyclist. He spent two years in Australia, studying English and racing on the professional continental level, earning 11 victories in his first two years as a professional cyclist. With many stage victories in international races such as Tour Down Under, Tour of Taiwan(x3), Tour of Alberta (X2) Tour of Korea (x2), Japan and China among others, his pedigree is well known. He also won two stages in the New Zealand Cycle Classic in 2014, his first year as a pro and is looking forward to returning to New Zealand.
“The goal this year is if there is going to be a sprint, I am going to be in it,” says Wippert. “Everyone understands you can’t win every sprint you do, but the goal is to be there every sprint. That is going to be the most important thing. When that works out, the win will come at some point. Hopefully that will be early in the season, to get the ball rolling, to get the positive vibe in the team.”
If Wippert is looking forward to winning the sprint stages, he will be well supported by Archbold, a gold medallist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and a member of the Bora-Argon 18 team lead out for Sam Bennett at the 2016 Tour de France.
Behind Archbold is Gate, a world champion at the Omnium event at the track world championships in 2013. Gate is an experienced tour rider taking part in world class events such as the 2017 Vuelta a Espana, Tours of Belgium, Switzerland and Denmark. Whitehouse is a hill climbing specialist and winner of the 2018 King of the Mountains jersey at the prestigious Spanish stage race, Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.
Being held simultaneously with the Grassroots New Zealand Cycle Classic is Three Peaks RIDE New Zealand’s Cycling Festival, a week-long festival encouraging people of all ages and stages of cycling to get out and ride more regularly. These two events have been made possible thanks to the generous support from the Brian Perry Charitable Trust and the Waipa District Council.
“Having the Grassroots New Zealand Cycle Classic and Ride New Zealand’s Festival of Cycling being held simultaneously will give the entire community a chance to see some of the world’s best riders in action and provide them with opportunities to get out on their own bikes and discover the Waipā district one road at a time,” says Mr Sandoval.
Today’s confirmation that EvoPro are gunning for the title, follows recent announcements that two professional Japanese teams will make their debut in the Classic as well as Team BridgeLane, one of the most prominent teams racing on the Oceania circuit.
EvoPro Racing: Ireland
Team manager: Morgan Fox
61 – Wouter Wippert
62 – Matthew Teggart
63 – Aaron Gate
64 – Shane Archbold
65 – Luke Mudgway
66 – Daniel Whitehouse