An exciting group of talented riders have been named to represent their country in next week’s 34th New Zealand Cycle Classic in the Wairarapa.
A trio of teenagers have been selected in Finn Fisher-Black, Laurence Pithie and Reuben Thompson, all contracted to World Tour Development teams in Europe this year. They will be joined by track stars Corbin Strong and Regan Gough and acclaimed global Esport rider Ollie Jones to form the Vantage Cycling New Zealand team.
The New Zealand Cycle Classic is the first UCI level 2 sanctioned event and the sole Oceania UCI stage road event being held in New Zealand this year after all six Australian races usually run early in the year, including the Tour Downunder, were cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Cycling New Zealand is thrilled that long-time organiser Jorge Sandoval has been able to present this important multi-stage race which has given so many of our riders the experience of a UCI-sanctioned race,” said Cycling New Zealand’s Graeme Hunn.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for us to give our young talent a chance before some of them head to Europe to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in the sport.”
Fisher-Black, 19, who is the junior pursuit world record-holder, is set to join the development team of Jumbo-Visma, while double junior track world champion Laurence Pithie, 18 and outstanding road prospect Reuben Thompson, `19, will ride for the development team of Groupama-FDJ.
The big brother World Tour teams include Vuelta a Espana winner Primoz Roglic and kiwi star George Bennett (Jumbo Visma) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), a multi-stage winner in the Tour de France and Vuelta.
Jones (Canyon ZCC) was fourth in last month’s inaugural UCI Esport World Championship while Strong, the current points race world champion, and Gough, the 2017 team pursuit world champion, are part of the Olympic track team. Strong, who won the under-23 honours in the Tour of Southland, has also signed for a renowned Dutch development road team, SEG Racing Academy
“These riders are all preparing for what we hope will be a life-changing 2021 season for them in their various endeavours around the globe. It is exciting that all of them are excited at lining up for the New Zealand Cycle Classic and should provide some fireworks for the tour.”
New Zealand Cycle Classic race director Jorge Sandoval is looking forward to delivering January’s event in a memorable way.
“This is my 34th NZ Cycle Classic and despite all the issues we and the world have with Covid-19, my team and I have worked very hard to ensure the 2021 NZ Cycle Classic is once again the premier multi-day cycle race in New Zealand,” said Sandoval.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for young up-and-upcoming kiwi cyclists to take part in a UCI event right here in our own country and see what it is like. I am grateful to all our sponsors for their continued support.”
The New Zealand Cycle Classic begins with a team time trial in Masterton next Wednesday evening. Stage two is 158km with five climbs before returning to Masterton; stage three features a multi-lap street circuit in Martinborough on Friday before the gut-busting stage four which finishes with a 10km ascent of Admirals Hill near Gladstone. The final stage on Sunday moves to Wellington for an exciting criterium centred on Lambton Quay.
Cyclists of all ages and abilities have the opportunity to also ride over this course in a fun event, with details on the NZ Cycle Classic website www.cycletournz.com