An inaugural women’s cycling event is helping Mike Greer Homes build more than award-winning homes, it is paving the way for award-winning cycle teams. The design and build company supports New Zealand trade teams by providing finances and racing kit.
Sports Director Patrick Harvey has prepared his carefully-selected team based on the UCI 1.2 Gravel and Tar La Femme event in Manawatu on Saturday, 19 January. “When the Gravel and Tar La Femme race was announced, all of us at Mike Greer Homes Women’s Cycling Team were so excited,” he said.
“We targeted this race as our key race on our domestic calendar as it suited our style of racing and the riders we were looking at signing,” he said.
The team are Rylee McMullen (captain), Amanda Jamieson, Niamh Fisher-Black, Jenna Merrick and Palmerston North local Libby Arbuckle.
They were charged with spending hours riding gravel during time in their home towns as well as a pre-season camp in Wanaka spent honing their tactics.
“A big part of our pre-season camp was preparing for what we knew was going to one of our hardest races of the season,” said Harvey. “Our preparations had us even more excited as we saw how talented the team were on the gravel and how excited they all were by the prospects.”
McMullen rated the event as a big target for her team and a great opportunity for women’s cycling. “Being the only women’s UCI race in NZ, it gives us an opportunity to showcase local talent on our own back doorstep,” McMullen said.
“MGH will field a strong selection of riders, and with time-trialists, sprinters and workhorses, we are sure to have many options on the day.”
Recent Under-23 national time trial champion, Jenna Merrick, described the race as the highlight of her race calendar and is well-aware of the task ahead of her.
“It will be highly demanding due to the technicalities of the course, most obvious being the gravel aspect which is fairly new to most of us,” Merrick said.
“We cannot wait to test our skills which the race demands, including those often overlooked such as bike handling, mental toughness, preparation and team work.”
Being the first women’s race at UCI level in New Zealand, as well as offering an equal prize purse has not been lost on the riders.
“Myself and the rest of the Mike Greer Homes Cycling team are stoked to be a part of the first women’s G&T race.
“Gravel and Tar is more than just a race, it represents the shift towards gender equality in cycling,” Merrick said.
“Although we still have a long way to go, it means a lot to us that races such as G&T offer equal prize money in reward for completing the same (gravel) course as the guys.
“We deserve equal treatment and in response will support races which provide this,” she said.
La Femme race director Jo Holdaway said the event was expected to grow on the back of Union Cycliste International’s (UCI’s) desire to develop women’s cycling.
“We have a clear mandate from the international body and La Femme is responding to this.
“We really need more women’s teams with the same attitude as Mike Greer Homes supporting our event in the future, as we want equality in all aspects, and that includes team numbers,” Holdaway said.