Fresh from a third place at the National Road Cycling Championships at the weekend, Hayden McCormick will again contest the Gravel and Tar Classic on Saturday, 19 January.
McCormick is a class rider, having won the 2018 New Zealand Cycle Classic and placing third in last year’s Gravel and Tar event. Despite puncturing three times on gravel, the 25-year-old showed his metal consistently; fighting back to finish third in Palmerston North in 2018.
After three seasons riding for UK-based One-Pro Cycling, for the 2019 season he has joined Australian-based Team BridgeLane, coming back to contest the Gravel and Tar Classic for the third time.
“The race offers some of the most beautiful untouched scenery, on a gruelling gravel course,” McCormick said.
“I’m really looking forward to being on the start line again.”
His new team is a collaboration between last year’s Mobius-BridgeLane and Isowhey Swiss-Wellness team, making it one of the most powerful Australian domestic teams.
Team BridgeLane manager Tom Petty brought together two teams that were “doing okay” but together could be so much better.
“We removed ego from it and decided we existed to support young riders in the Oceania region and to help them get the opportunities to be their best.
“It was an act of long-term security and we wanted to continue (owners) Andrew Christie-Johnson and Steve Price’s 18-year history,” Petty said.
Support of the Gravel & Tar event was important to him due to the strong link with the Manawatu region and his love of the tough race it provided his riders.
“The community there has always gone above and beyond to support our team and young riders in the region.
“There’s some great riders in Oceania and despite having a very strong roster, the Gravel and Tar demands so much more of athletes, it always makes for a dramatic and exciting race,” he said.
Last year, the Mobius-Bridgelane team produced 2018 winner Ethan Berends, as well as taking the top team title.
With Berends not racing this year, McCormick stands a strong chance of making number one his favourite number.