The New Zealand Cycle Classic has long been considered a feeder race to the UCI World Tour. A number of the stars of tomorrow make their presence felt in this long-established race, and as we spoke to Del Woodford it wouldn’t be surprising to see one or two more headed for the world’s biggest cycling stage in the not-to-distant future.
Should Joseph Cooper win the New Zealand Cycle Classic it will be one of the Kiwi champion’s finest hours. He has made his stomping ground the National Road Series in Australia, becoming one of the most prominent figures across the ditch. At 31 years of age it is unlikely, though not impossible by any means, that a debut World Tour contract will come his way. But though a World Tour contract might not be as likely, Del Woodford would still hope for opportunities to come his way to prove himself on the world stage.
“I’d really love to see him get the opportunity to maybe ride the Commonwealth Games and mix it again with some World Tour riders at the Commonwealth Games; and again that would make someone look at him,” Del told us.
But if not Cooper, who looks set to win the New Zealand Cycle Classic for the first time in his career, who does Del think could have their hand up for potential World Tour greatness? “Right now in the race I’d be looking at Logan Griffin,” Woodford said. “He’s sitting second on GC, he’s impressed me before in the race and he’s impressed me again. Sam Crome, a young man with IsoWhey, I’d be looking at him . . . and then I’d be looking at James Fouche. A very, very good rider, gutsy rider. He was most aggressive yesterday, he’s getting his opportunity to go and ride the Sun Tour in Australia. Brad Evans I think has got a massive amount of potential still to keep improving his cycling. So they would be top of my list if I was in a position to sign some riders.”