New Zealand’s best U23 cyclists, buoyed by the World Cup success of the endurance track riders, will have some special motivation in next month’s BDO Road Cycling National Championships in Napier.

An exciting group of under-23 riders, including the World Cup track team and some highly promising professionals, have been announced for the championships on 5-7 January.

Added to the championship jerseys up for grabs in the time trial and road race, will be a special new trophy for the under-23 men’s road race winner.

Cycling New Zealand has received the New Zealand Cyclist Corps Memorial Trophy from Belgium, after its presentation to elite Kiwi riders Jack Bauer and Sam Bewley recently.

The trophy, produced from a cobblestone uplifted from the famed Kemmelberg and set in wood from the trenches of Flanders field, is to honour the New Zealand Cyclist Corps who served on the Western Front during the Great War.

The little-known NZCC sustained their heaviest losses at the Battle of Kemmelberg in Belgium in 1918, with the cobbled hill now an iconic climb in the Gent-Wevelgem World Tour race which is based in Flanders Fields and passes the likes of Ypres, Messines, Menin Gate and the Kemmelberg.

The race organiser, together with the local town and the New Zealand Embassies in Brussels and Paris, produced the trophy for Cycling New Zealand.  A New Zealand under-23 team will compete at the Gent-Wevelgem race next year, which will incorporate the centenary commemoration of the Battle of Kemmelberg.

“Our under-23 riders compete alongside our elites at the national championships, and for them it is an important race not just for the titles at stake, but also to press their claims,” said Cycling New Zealand Athlete Development Manager, Graeme Hunn.  “We have arguably our strongest group of under-23 riders, both female and male, who have been producing outstanding form on the roads of Europe and around the globe, as well as on the track.

“Added to that will be the motivation to be the first person to win this very moving trophy which is a pertinent link to our past and the very strong bond that exists between the people of Belgium and New Zealand, and carries on today through cycling.”

The under-23 men’s entries include last year’s road race and time trial champion Regan Gough, part of the track team that won a silver medal at the last world championships; and runner-up James Fouche (Auckland) with whom Regan Gough faced an epic battle in the 2017 race to finally claim the road race title.

Others of note include young professional Sam Dobbs, this year’s junior representative at the world champions in Ben Hamilton and Canterbury’s Jake Marryatt, who was third in the road race and time trial last year.  Of interest will be the in-form Vantage Elite Track riders including Campbell Stewart, Tom Sexton, Harry Waine, Nick Kergozou and Jared Gray who won the team pursuit title at the World Cup in Chile at the weekend.

The under-23 women’s line-up includes last year’s road winner Amanda Jamieson, time trial champion Mikayla Harvey, talented Marlborough rider Georgia Catterick and current elite track riders Bryony Botha, Michaela Drummond and Holly Edmondston.

The road races based at Church Road Winery are on Friday 5 January with the women’s road race on Saturday 6 January and the men’s road race on Sunday 7 January.  The field for the elite men will be released on Thursday and the elite women’s field on Friday.

 

Photo:  John Cowpland

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