Auckland rider Connor Brown is the latest New Zealander to earn a spot on the UCI WorldTour for 2021.
Connor, 22, has earned a two-year contract riding for the revamped Team Qhubeka ASSOS, named this week along with Brit Harry Tanfield and Denmark’s Emil Vinjebo.
Connor, who was part of the Cycling New Zealand team pursuit combination that won a gold medal at the junior track world championships in 2016, has since pursued a road career. He made a name for himself with NTT Continental, which morphed out of Dimension Data.
He enjoyed an outstanding year- despite the challenges of the coronavirus - highlighted with his third placing on stage seven of the under-23 Giro d’Italia, as well as some impressive efforts on the big climbs throughout the tour.
“I actually started the race last year but I had a lot of mechanical problems and I was forced to pull out. I had unfinished business this time around and I wanted to do something memorable. I just had a fire in my belly,” Brown told Lockeroom.
However when Japanese telecommunications giant, NTT signalled they would not renew their sponsorship, Brown thought his future looked as bleak as the effects of Covid-19 in Europe.
But things turned when he got the call that not only will he have a team to race for next season, he is moving to the UCI WorldTour.
“I’ve been dreaming of riding in the WorldTour for as long as I can remember and it’s finally a reality. My two years with the Continental team have been very special, and the perfect platform from which to now take the next step in my career,” Brown told Cycling News.
He is already setting his sights on the road ahead.
“Races like Paris-Roubaix, Flanders, they’ve always had a special place in my heart. I think I’m a rider suited towards the Classics so it would be pretty cool to do those one day.”
Brown is originally from South Africa, moving to New Zealand with his family when he was four. He was attracted to cycling at high school at St Kentigern College which has a strong cycling programme. After competing successfully on the track, he rode for Team Skoda Fruzio road team in New Zealand before joining Australian Continental team Mobius-BridgeLane and then getting his break, selected for the first African UCI Continental team, Dimension Data which morphed into NTT Cycling and now to the WorldTour as Team Qhubeka ASSOS.
He joins fellow kiwis Jack Bauer, Dion Smith and Sam Bewley (Mitchelton Scott), George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), Patrick Bevin (Israel Start-Up Nation), Shane Archbold (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Tom Scully (EF Pro Cycling) set for the 2021 UCI WorldTour.
CAPTION: Connor Brown in action for NTT Continental. (NTT Cycling)