Team Skoda-Fruzio have unveiled their 2019/2020 roster.  The all Under 23 squad is full of talent for the coming season packed with some of New Zealand’s brightest U23 & U19 riders.

Leading the line-up for the team is the recently crowned Junior Track World Champions Laurence Pithie and Kiaan Watts. The team also boasts three riders competing at the Yorkshire Road World Championships at the end of September – Finn Fisher Black, Reuben Thompson and Ari Scott. New signings for the season are U17 road & track star Jack Carswell and Blenheim U23 climber Andrew Bidwell. 

The Team continues their partnership with SKODA New Zealand and Fruzio frozen fruit as their title sponsors and will be backed by Trek Bicycles, Torpedo7 and DT Swiss wheels as their equipment suppliers. CCN Sport and ilabb continue as the team’s clothing suppliers – on and off the bike.

Laurence Pithie and Kiaan Watts on the podium after another World title for New Zealand, photo Guy Swarbrick

The Team had a stellar 2018/2019 season with the mentioned two world champions, time trial and road titles at the Oceania Championships for Finn Fisher-Black and six riders named in New Zealand World Championship teams. The Team also picked up third at the U23 Elite Road Nationals, claimed the U19 road title at Age Group Nationals, won the Calder Stewart Elite Series Teams classification, and team rider Josh Kench won a stage of the UCI Nations Cup Tour de L’Abitibi. The team had 11 riders compete overseas during the winter months with Reuben Thompson & Ari Scott starring for New Zealand U19 French Campaign and Bailey O’Donnell winning two elite races in Belgium.

Team Skoda Fruzio has become synonymous with junior male development in New Zealand cycling, the vision of the team is to create development pathways for leading U23 and U19 riders. Finn Fisher-Black is one such rider who has already benefitted. In August, Fisher- Black signed for World Tour feeder team Jumbo Visma Academy. This team could provide Finn a direct line to the World Tour team where fellow Kiwi George Bennett rides. Another success was mid-season graduate Corbin Strong, stepping up to St George Continental Team where he made an immediate impact in Asia by winning the best young riders jersey at the Tour of Korea 2.1 and representing New Zealand at the Track World Championships.

The focus for the coming year will be to deliver a calendar that continues to build the riding skillsets for the squad both on and off the bike. The Team will focus on the Tour of Southland, Elite Road Nationals and the Gravel & Tar Classic races in New Zealand. The Team are also Australian registered and will continue to compete in the Australian National Road Series. The Team will head back to Australia in December for their third visit to the Tour of Tasmania. They will likely compete in several further summer races in Australia if the calendar permits.

Finn Fisher-Black celebrates making it a double with road and TT gold, photo Caitlin Johnston

Team co-owner, Brad Tilby says, “This season has been a coming of age for the team, we have seen our first rider go direct from our team into a World Tour feeder team. This really reflects the hard work from Finn, where he hit all his key targets across the year. The Team has become a respected force on the U19 world scene where we have leading teams actively following our riders. Europe is where our riders need to be and we hope we can continue to send more guys straight into these cycling powerhouse teams. We will continue to collaborate with several teams across Europe to open doors for our riders that will hopefully attract the attention of these large teams.

The Team have retained all their major sponsorships for the season; a testament to the program and results the team have achieved. Team co-owner Scott Fairbairn says, “It is great to have some of the biggest companies in and out of cycling on board. This year is Skoda New Zealand’s fifth year of supporting the team and Fruzio has now been on for several years. Equipment sponsors for the team include – Trek, Torpedo7, Shimano, Vittoria, DT Swiss and Park Tool. We have CCN sport [who] are back on board for their fourth year along with ilabb clothing, Pure Sports Nutrition, Biomaxa, Whipit, KitBrix bags and Uniden. For us, it is great to see the continued support from these brands in support developing cyclists in New Zealand and we are proud to represent their brands on the road.”

Reuben Thompson has taken the French cycling scene by storm with his skills uphill and in breakaways taking him to a neat handful of wins in just a month of racing, photo Alexia Tintinger

The first race for the team will be the first round of the Dynamo Teams series, with the big focuses being the Tour of Southland and the Tour of Tasmania 

The full 2019/2020 line up is:

U23 line up: Finn Fisher Black (2019), Reuben Thompson, Ari Scott, Aaron Wyllie, Bailey O’Donnell, Jayden Kuijpers, Kiaan Watts, Lachie Dickson, Andrew Bidwell, Josh Kench 

U19 Line up: Laurence Pithie, Jack Carswell, Guy Yarrell, Boston Bright

Photo: Danielle Ward – Concept78 Photography


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