The New Zealand Under-23 cycling team will wear special jerseys when they compete in the famed Gent-Wevelgem In Flanders Field, with the annual road race to commemorate 100 years since the end of the Great War.
The New Zealand team will compete in the Under-23 UCI Nations Cup event which is on the same day as the World Tour race, with the course passing iconic WWI towns including Messines, Ypres and through the Menin Gate, and also climbs the famed Kemmelberg hill.
It is this hill where the New Zealand Cyclist Corps suffered their biggest losses in WW1 and was recognised by Gent Wevelgem organisers and the Mayor of Heuvelland who manufactured the NZCC Memorial Trophy. The trophy, made from a cobblestone from the Kemmelberg and mounted on wood from the WWI trenches, was presented to James Fouche as the under-23 national champion at Napier in January.
Fouche leads the New Zealand team who will wear specially designed race jerseys for the race, which remembers the New Zealand Cyclist Corps and their sacrifice in the Great War. It is emblazoned with the red poppy and NZ Cyclist Corps insignia, while the back of the jersey includes the names of every member of the New Zealand Cyclist Corps in WWI under the words Lest We Forget.
Tomorrow, in the lead up to the race, Fouche and Cycling New Zealand European Manager, Dirk Van Hove, will present a wreath on behalf of Cycling New Zealand along with the race organisers, the UCI and the New Zealand Ambassador, at the Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate.
Fouche will be joined in the New Zealand team by Ollie Jones (Christchurch), Tom Carter (Tauranga), Matias Fitzwater (Hamilton) and Nick Reddish (Hamilton) for the Nations Cup race, while Tom Scully (EF Education – Drapac) and Jack Bauer (Mitchelton-Scott) are the Kiwis racing in the World Tour race.
A major WWI centenary commemoration will take place on Tuesday 3 April at Messines, near the Kemmelberg, which is specifically to recognise the contribution of the New Zealand Cyclist Corps. There will be New Zealand cyclists present at that ceremony along with Kiwis who are part of a cycle tour led by Karl Woolcott.
The group will also attend a second NZCC ceremony at Marfaux in France on 5 April where the NZCC were honoured by the people of Epernay following the liberation of the city.