The brand new F A S T Cycling Team have announced their roster for the 2017 season. The team includes none other than former world time trial champion Linda Villumsen and blends a mixture of some of New Zealand’s most promising youngsters and experienced athletes who will be looking to make a big impact on the upcoming season.
You may be wondering where Linda Villumsen has been since the 2016 Olympic campaign. The 2015 world time trial champion didn’t return to defend her crown in Doha, but that’s not to say that she’s been silent on the cycling scene. Linda has been getting ready for a new approach that sees her join the New Zealand F A S T Cycling Team in 2017.
The 9 rider outfit is about to enter its first year and stars the Danish-born Kiwi. In their statement on Facebook the team said, “Linda brings to the team a wealth of knowledge and experience, having raced professionally for the past 14 seasons.”
“Linda will bring a sense of calm to the team when out on the road. She will be our captain, role model and our eyes and ears during the races. An experienced hand amongst all our youngsters.”
Those youngsters include one of New Zealand’s most promising young track stars in Ellesse Andrews. Andrews has targeted the World Championships and Olympic Games as future career ambitions and is already well on her way to achieving them with success at last year’s World Junior Track Championships already to her name in the team sprint and individual pursuit.
At last week’s elite track national championships Andrews took victory in the U19 500m time trial in emphatic fashion as well as the U19 2000m individual pursuit which came with a new national record and very nearly a world record too.
Alongside Villumsen and Andrews will come Auckland’s Kate Wightman who arrived at cycling following her background in both swimming and football. Wightman has experience both domestically and across the ditch on the NRS circuit.
Amy Hollamby is the reigning Club Road National Champion in both time trial and road race disciplines for 35-40 years of age, and took the series win in the same category for the Calder Stewart Series last year. Experience also arrives in the team in the form of Jeannie Blakemore, who won the UCI Masters World Championships time trial and took silver in the road race last year. Her form in 2017 is already strong, with Blakemore taking first female in the Around Brunner Classic.
Also joining the team will be young rider Emma Smith who over the last couple of seasons has been able to expand her horizons to racing for the New Zealand National Team in Australia. Finally the team is bolstered by the arrival of Deborah Paine who hails from Ethiopia but is currently based in Palmerston North where she studies. Paine has a diverse sporting history with success in rugby, road and cross country running and cycling.
The aim of the team is to ‘[create] a professional, fun and learning environment to discover the next up and coming talent in New Zealand.’