New Zealand will boast a super-strong cycling contingent for the penultimate UCI Tissot Track World Cup on home turf in Cambridge next month. The 18-strong Vantage Elite team is stacked full of World Championship and Commonwealth Games medallists for the three-day World Cup on 18-20 January, which carries vital qualifying points for the world championships and on to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
At the same time Cycling New Zealand wants to take advantage of hosting a World Cup at their headquarters at the Avantidrome by giving their next tier of development riders a taste of international competition against an expected 250 riders from more than 20 countries.
A further 17 New Zealand riders will get the chance of some invaluable international experience competing for the Subway New Zealand Trade Team and Team Vantage New Zealand Trade Team.
The Vantage Elite team is anchored by the three-time world champion sprint trio of Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster with the female sprinters comprising national record holders Emma Cumming and Natasha Hansen.
The male endurance squad is built around the 2017 world champion silver medallists Nick Kergozou and Regan Gough, the 2016 individual pursuit world champion Jordan Kerby and four-time junior world champion Campbell Stewart. Making a return to the squad is the 2013 omnium world champion Aaron Gate after plying his trade on the professional road scene for the last two years.
The core of the female endurance squad is anchored by the Commonwealth Games silver medallists Rushlee Buchanan, Racquel Sheath, Kirstie James and Bryony Botha.
The sprint riders in the two trade teams were selected from recent trials while the endurance squads have progressed from the successful New Zealand junior world championship campaigns and comprise several riders from the Subway and Grassroots Trust Performance Hubs.
Making a return is Olympian Lauren Ellis, after the birth of her first child, while her fellow Rio teammate Jaime Nielsen, another new mum, has recently made her return to cycling.
There is no place at present for double Olympic champion rower, Hamish Bond who has only recently turned his attentions to the track.
“Clearly this is an important World Cup for us on a number of levels,” said Cycling New Zealand high performance director, Martin Barras. “It provides us with opportunities to sew up qualifying spots for February’s World Championships.
“It presents a clear opportunity to produce world class performances as we work towards the worlds, and also as we set our sights towards Tokyo.
“We will also get the opportunity in the white-hot heat of competition to test our equipment, particularly our top-of-the-line wheels designed and manufactured by our partners Southern Spars.
“The World Cup offers our riders and our staff the chance to compete on a track we train on every day, in an environment we know and in front of friends, family and fans.
“It will also be a terrific spectacle because we know the level of competition will be outstanding and hopefully we can fill the place with Kiwi supporters.”
Cycling New Zealand has also named a 16-strong team to contest the final round of the UCI World Cup in Hong Kong which is the week after the Cambridge event, mostly with key development riders.
The Cycling New Zealand teams are:
UCI Track World Cup, Cambridge:
Vantage Elite Team, Sprint: Emma Cumming, Natasha Hansen; Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster. Endurance: Bryony Botha, Rushlee Buchanan, Michaela Drummond, Holly Edmondston, Kirstie James, Racquel Sheath. Aaron Gate, Regan Gough, Jordan Kerby, Nick Kergozou, Tom Sexton, Campbell Stewart, Harry Waine.
Subway New Zealand Trade Team, Sprint: Tahlay Christie, Olivia Podmore. Reserve: Tessa Young. Endurance: Ellesse Andrews, Lauren Ellis, Jessie Hodges, Emily Shearman, Ally Wollaston.
Team Vantage New Zealand Trade Team, Sprint: Sam Dakin, Bradly Knipe, Zac Williams. Reserve: Callum Saunders. Endurance: George Jackson, Bailey O’Donnell, Corbin Strong, Jarred Treymane, Aaron Wyllie.
UCI Track World Cup, Hong Kong:
Vantage Elite Team, sprint: Sam Dakin, Bradly Knipe, Zac Williams; Emma Cumming, Olivia Podmore. Endurance: Campbell Stewart; Ellesse Andrews, Michaela Drummond, Lauren Ellis, Jessie Hodges, Emily Shearman, Racquel Sheath.
Team Vantage New Zealand Trade Team, endurance: George Jackson, Bailey O’Donnell, Corbin Strong, Jarred Treymane, Aaron Wyllie.