Team Skoda Fruzio are set for an exciting step into the future. The team celebrated their launch for the 2018-2019 season in Giltrap Skoda in Auckland, and with the backing of their numerous sponsors the team are excited about continuing on as New Zealand’s forefront outfit in terms of rider development in New Zealand.
As the 2018 season heads towards its climax life at Team Skoda Fruzio is just as busy as ever. Last month the team starred in the junior men’s team pursuit outfit that won gold at the World Junior Track Championships and they then went over to the Junior Tour of Wales where Bailey O’Donnell claimed the combativity prize at the end of one of Europe’s most prestigious junior stage races.
Over the last six months it’s been the development further forwards of the riders into higher levels that has been one of the things that team co-owner Scott Fairbairn has cited as being one of the most exciting growth points. “We are now absolutely on the radar of international teams. We have had so many enquiries over the last couple of months from continental teams in Australia and further abroad looking for riders for races; who are helping us get race invites,” Fairbairn said.
“Out of the small hub that is New Zealand, we are definitely starting these ripples that are generating into some more hopefully bigger waves as they hit foreign shores.”
Recently Team Skoda Fruzio finished second in the team classification at the Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley; with the New Zealand outfit remaining the only team from our shores on the National Road Series circuit in Australia. Along with results across New Zealand that have included being third overall and best young rider in the New Zealand Cycle Classic, best young rider at the SBS Tour of Southland 2017, and success across the Calder Stewart Series and Dynamo Team Championship; racing has taken the team across to China and now sees riders formerly of Team Skoda Fruzio now racing from America to the UK, France to Italy.
Leading the line up for the team from 2018-2019 is the recently crowned Junior Track World Champions Corbin Strong, Finn Fisher Black, Bailey O’Donnell and George Jackson; along with Junior Road Worlds rider Josh Lane and the 16 year old phenomenon Laurence Pithie. The Team continues their strong partnerships with Skoda New Zealand and Fruzio frozen fruit as their title sponsors. They will retain their backing by Trek Bicycles, Torpedo7 and DT Swiss as their bike suppliers and CCN Sport and ilabb as their clothing suppliers, on and off the bike.
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, the New Zealand Cycle Classic 2.2 and the Gravel & Tar 1.2 race 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 November for the Tour of Tasmania and Giro Della Donna buoyed by their second placing on the Teams Classification at the latest round – Tour of King Valley. The Team will likely include a European stint in 2019 for the U19 line up in preparation for the Road World Championships in Yorkshire.
Team co-owner, Brad Tilby says, “I have never been so excited about a line up. We have an average age of 18 this year with some exceptional talent that can win on any terrain. We have seen the guys achieve on the world stage, while the likes of Aaron Wyllie has shown in Australia what he is capable of after only limited time on the road. Looking further into the line-up, we have the likes of Josh Kench, Lachie Dickson and Kiaan Watts all finishing at the pointy end of New Zealand races and for them it’s about cutting their teeth further on the international stage’.
The Team have retained all their major sponsorships for the season; a testament to the programme and the results the team have achieved. 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 fourth year of supporting the team and we welcomed Fruzio on at the start of the year. Further partners for the team include – CCN race clothing, Shimano, Vittoria, Park Tool, Pure Nutrition, On Fire Design, Biomaxa, Whipit, Apex insurance, Revbox 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.”
The first races for the Team will be Calder Stewart Elite Series Round 5 in Nelson on Saturday and the Dynamo Teams Series Round 1 in Cambridge on Sunday.
Full 2018/2019 line up
U23 line up: Aaron Wyllie, Bailey O’Donnell, Ben Hamilton, Corbin Strong, George Jackson, Jayden Kuijpers, Max Jones
U19 Line up: Archie Martin, Ari Scott, Boston Bright, Finn Fisher Black, Kiaan Watts, Josh Kench, Josh Lane, Lachie Dickson, Laurence Pithie