The ProContinental influx: who’s stepping up in 2016?

The European cycling scene is growing more and more exciting for New Zealanders with no less than five riders stepping up to ProContinental level; with the potential to race World Tour events as well in 2016. Catch up on who’s in the ProContinental ranks for next season.

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Shane Archbold begins his season tonight in Italy with no contract for 2018, but he's simply loving being back to racing again, photo Bora Argon18

The European cycling scene is growing more and more exciting for New Zealanders with no less than five riders stepping up to ProContinental level; with the potential to race World Tour events as well in 2016.  Catch up on who’s in the ProContinental ranks for next season.

Shane Archbold – Bora-Argon18

He made a big step up this year going onto ProContinental level with Bora-Argon18, but Shane Archbold has been well capable of living up to the standard expected of him.  His principle role as lead out man for Sam Bennett has seen him play a key role in the team’s eight wins this season.  Archbold himself has had a pretty good scorecard in his own right though with six top ten finishes in races in France, Belgium, Canada and Germany this year; with his best result being a second place in Classica Corsica.  Watch this space to see what the ‘flying mullet’ brings in 2016.  His World Tour experience this year saw him take on both the GP Cycliste de Quebec and Montreal, as well as the steep learning curve which was the Tour of Flanders.

Hayden McCormick – Lotto Soudal Development Team to ONE Pro Cycling

Despite having a rocky season with injury, Hayden McCormick came through and out the other side swinging.  He has been solid in stage races in the Tour de Normandie and the Tour de Berlin – where he finished ninth overall – and gained some valuable experience in races such as Paris-Roubaix Espoirs.  His most impressive performance though came in the U27 Liege-Bastogne-Liege race, where Hayden finished tenth in what he described as a race that he absolutely loved.  His season has caught the attention of British outfit ONE Pro Cycling, who are stepping up to ProContinental level in 2016.  It will be exciting to see McCormick take on the next stage in his career, in the company of two good mates.

James Oram – Axeon Pro Cycling to ONE Pro Cycling

It certainly seems like James’ start and finish of this season were where he peaked; and boy did he peak!  After third place and victory in the team classification for his Axeon Cycling Team in his opening race in Portugal, James followed that up with victory overall in the Volta ao Alentejo.  As we expected from the rider who is the current National U23 time trial champion, his performances against the clock have been where we’ve really been watching out for him, and he gave us good reason to keep our eyes open.  Eighth in the Tour of the Gila TT, tenth in the Tour de Beauce TT, it was clear that consistency was there.  But it was his latter end of the season that was possibly most impressive as he first took two top ten finishes in the Tour of Alberta in stage 3 and stage 4 and then finished sixth against the World’s best in the U23 World Championship TT.

Dion Smith – Hincapie Racing to ONE Pro Cycling

Nowhere does the term ‘breakthrough’ apply more aptly than with regards Dion Smith.  The 22 year old stormed the American scene this year, with an utterly impressive win in the Cascade Cycling Classic in July; which included a victory in stage 3.  To then go from that straight into the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah – and some of the World Tour’s best is a bit of a step; to then take them on at their own game serves as testament to why ONE Pro Cycling wanted him on board.  Dion is one of the gutsiest riders around, which he displayed in stage 3 of the Tour of Utah; where he won the hearts of onlookers with his heartbreaking fifth place in the Tour of Utah after a day in the break plus a last gasp effort.

Tom Scully – Madison Genesis to Drapac Pro Cycling

The track cycling star from the Commonwealth Games has proven that he is worth a shot at the big time; and Drapac Pro Cycling have made a good investment in signing Scully to their outfit in 2016.  After a solid Tour de Normandie Scully based himself primarily in the UK where his best results included a dominant win in the Sheffield Grand Prix, part of the UK’s elite circuit race series.  Drapac have been one of the more active outfits in the transfer market bringing in no less than five new faces including Scully; and saying goodbye to six names.  They will hope that with the addition of a rider like Scully they can improve on their eight wins in 2015 including the final stage of the Tour Down Under.

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