The 38 year old Lotto Soudal professional has recovered after suffering from broken ribs in a crash that forced him out of this year’s Tour de France. It will be Henderson’s sixth start in a world championship in Richmond, Virginia with the USA hosting the event on 19-27 September for only the second time since it began in 1921. Henderson will be joined by fellow World Tour riders Sam Bewley (Orica GreenEdge) and Jesse Sergent (Trek Factory Racing). Sergent is also on the comeback after surgeries following a broken collarbone when he was hit by a service vehicle during the tour of Flanders.
The women’s team is headed by five-time medallist Linda Villumsen to be supported by experienced professionals and double Olympians, Jo Kiesanowski and Rushlee Buchanan, while Jaime Nielsen, the national time trial champion, will compete in that discipline.
Dion Smith (Hincapie Racing), James Oram (Axeon Cycling) and Hayden McCormick (Lotto Soudal Development) all return to the world championships again this year, the final time as under-23 riders for Smith and Oram.
The road course is extremely technical with narrow streets, cobbled sections including climbs with a number of tight corners. Cycling New Zealand said they have selected their teams based on this. “It is not unlike a typical kermesse circuit in Belgium and will suit a highly skilled power-based rider,” said Cycling New Zealand High Performance Director, Mark Elliott. “Of course as is the case with World Championships, it is a 260km race for elite men and 130km for elite women, so we also took into consideration the abilities of riders to be able to cope with that distance.”
All three New Zealand elite riders are competing for their professional teams in the team time trial. If the race comes down to a sprint, then Henderson is well placed to be highly competitive; Sergent has excellent skills while Bewley will be the key team rider off the back of an outstanding season for Orica GreenEdge. Both Sergent and Bewley will also ride in the individual time trial.
Villumsen, who is a superb bike handler, will enjoy the technical nature of the course and should be well suited to the European-style of the circuit for both the time trial and road race, for the Commonwealth Games time trial gold medallist. Both Buchanan and Kiesanowski will play support roles for Villumsen, with both well experienced and skilled, with track backgrounds, for the technical course. Nielsen, part of the endurance track squad, has been riding professionally in Italy this year, although she is currently recovering from injury and a final decision on her availability will be made next week.
Smith has been the standout of the under-23 riders this year, winning two young rider classifications, and finishing fourth in this category in the US Pro Challenge and Tour of Utah and fifth at the prestigious Tour of California as well as winning the Cascade Cycle Classic.
Oram has won two young rider races including the Liberty Seguros event, while McCormick, who is very experienced in kermesse racing, was top-10 overall in the Tour of Berlin.
The team will again be guided by Director Sportif, Craig Geater.
The race schedule is:
20 September Team Time Trial (elite men and women)
21 September Individual time trial – junior women (15km), under-23 men (30km)
22 September Individual time trial – junior men (30km), elite women (30km)
23 September Individual time trial – elite men (45km).
25 September – Road race – junior women (81km), under-23 men (178km)
26 September – Road race – junior men (13-km), elite women (130km)
27 September – Road Race – Elite men (260km)
The New Zealand team is:
Elite women: Linda Villumsen (United Healthcare – time trial, road race), Rushlee Buchanan (United Healthcare – road race), Jo Kiesanowski (Team TIBCO-SVB – road race). Reserve – Emily Collins (TeamTIBCO-SVB), Jaime Nielsen (BePink LaClassica – time trial).
Elite men: Jesse Sergent (Trek Factory – time trial, road race), Greg Henderson (Lotto Soudal – road race), Sam Bewley (Orica GreenEdge – time trial, road race).
Under-23 men: James Oram (Axeon Cycling – time trial, road race), Dion Smith (Hincapie Racing – road race), Hayden McCormick (Lotto Soudal – road race).