Some of Cycling New Zealand Vantage elite women’s endurance track squad will test themselves against the world’s best road riders in the Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide next week.

The four-day women’s race, which leads into the men’s UCI World Tour event, is one of only five stage races and the only one outside of Europe to be part of the UCI Women’s Pro Series.

The event will provide an opportunity to rebuild ahead of the track world championships next month, while it will also present a unique chance for some of the country’s emerging talent to sample a world class road event.

The New Zealand team comprises the experienced trio of Rushlee Buchanan, Racquel Sheath and Bryony Botha who will be joined by the exciting young talent of Ally Wollaston, Jessie Hodges and Nicole Shields.

Organisers have confirmed the race will proceed, despite some bushfires in South Australia, with the express desire of the local communities in and around the Adelaide foothills where the race is based, and with strict safety procedures in place to protect the health and welfare of the riders.

“It is a good chance for some of our track riders to have a short rebuild as they prepare for what will be a massive next six months for some of them, and it is a rare opportunity outside of Europe for young riders to experience a stage race against many of the best riders and teams in the world,” said Alex Greenfield, the Cycling New Zealand women’s endurance assistant coach.

Leading teams including Mitchelton-Scott, Sunweb, Trek-Segafredo, Ale BTC, FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine, Rally UHC and Bepink have entered. Several other New Zealand road riders will compete with Ella Harris confirmed for her Canyon SRAM Racing team with Oceania champion Sharlotte Lucas and Jenelle Crooks riding for Team TIBCO SVB.

The first three days feature stages in the Adelaide Foothills with stage 1 on Thursday 16 January over 116km from Hahndorf to Macclesfield, stage 2 of 115km from Murray Bridge to Birdwood and day 3 of 109km from Nairne to Stirling. The final stage on Sunday 19 January is over 42kms of a 1.7km criterium circuit in downtown Adelaide, 

The Vantage New Zealand team is: Bryony Botha, Rushlee Buchanan, Jessie Hodges, Racquel Sheath, Nicole Shields, Ally Wollaston. Reserves: Holly Edmondston, Michaela Drummond, Samara Sheppard.

Photo: Guy Swarbrick

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