Is it possible that in a year or two we could be seeing Dion Smith, James Oram and Hayden McCormick fighting for a place at the Tour de France? Well, according to team owner and former cricketer Matt Prior that could well become a reality.
Speaking to the Daily Mail in the UK, Prior made mention of the fact that the team are ahead of schedule in their progression. “Things have happened quicker than we could ever have imagined. And that’s why I’m never one for putting time frames on things,” he said. “This is all about this team growing and getting bigger. Right from day one we said the ambitions are to go to the World Tour and the Grand Tours and that’s not changed.”
The team have had a rapid elevation since their inception as a Continental team, this year sees them enter their first year as a ProContinental outfit and to bolster their solid line up they have introduced Kiwis Hayden McCormick, James Oram and Dion Smith. All three riders are on two year contracts with the team, which will see them carried through the 2017 season. That being the case we can be excited as Matt Prior told Cyclingnews that a step up to World Tour level would not be out of the question in 2017.
This could mean big things for Kiwis Oram, Smith and McCormick. They have already impressed in the New Zealand Cycle Classic, Herald Sun Tour and Dubai Tour this year; as well as having a national title in U23 time trial champion Hayden McCormick. They ride like a team that belongs in the World Tour, not afraid to command the front of the peloton as we saw in Dubai against World Tour outfits like Etixx-Quick Step and Dimension Data.
Technically they are eligible for invites to the big World Tour events and it is possible – though not probable – that we could see them at a Grand Tour this year should they get an invite. Coming up they are scheduled to be racing at HC level events Tour de Langkawi, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne; and it is possible that we could see them at the week long World Tour Tour de Pologne later on in the year.
Whatever the case the prospects are looking good for our Kiwi contingent in the British team, watch this space for more from ONE Pro Cycling in 2016. Their next race is the Tour de Langkawi which runs from the 24th February to 2nd March.