Twenty-one track riders were today named by Cycling New Zealand to travel overseas from this weekend as the road to the Rio Olympics ramps up.
After an excellent build-up in New Zealand, seven endurance men, seven endurance women and seven sprinters head overseas - split between Australia, USA and Europe - for competition and training before the team is finalised for Rio in the first week of July.
“We want to ensure we have the fastest riders going to Rio, and there’s tremendous depth in the programme competing for those final spots,” said Cycling New Zealand High Performance Director, Mark Elliott.
Cycling New Zealand will finalise selections for its road team before deciding on the track team for Rio.
Four sprinters – Natasha Hansen, Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins – have already been named for Rio with opportunity for an addition in male and female ranks.
However there is plenty of competition for a minimum five places in the endurance squads for Rio – four in the team pursuit and one in the omnium.
“The culture within this total squad means they push each other every session, every day to get faster. But they also support each other on and off the track. The quality of this last training block in Cambridge has been exemplary.”
First group to leave is the men’s endurance squad which includes the five riders who competed at the recent world championships with Aaron Gate and Alex Frame already in Europe with their professional teams, along with Piet Bulling, Nick Kergozou and Dylan Kennett.
That trio is joined by Regan Gough, part of the 2014 world championship winning team, and 2008 double Olympic medallist Hayden Roulston. They will form a New Zealand team to compete in the RAS Tour of Ireland starting in 10 days.
The squad will then head for a training block in Mallorca before moving to their regular European base in Belgium for a mixture of road and track training.
Joining the Rio-bound quartet to be based in Cottbus, Germany will be rising star Zac Williams, while London medallist Simon van Velthooven will head for racing in USA and 2014 world championship medallist Matt Archibald will compete in the International Track Series in Melbourne. Both will be considered for further racing in Europe.
The experienced women’s endurance quartet of Rushlee Buchannan, Lauren Ellis, Jaime Nielsen and Georgia Williams will be joined by the young trio of Holly Edmondston, Alysha Keith and Racquel Sheath that will head to USA for training and racing before five riders will be selected to travel to Belgium later next month.
The travelling riders are:
Sprint: Natasha Hansen (Southland), Matt Archibald (Southland), Eddie Dawkins (Southland), Ethan Mitchell (Auckland), Simon van Velthooven (Manawatu), Sam Webster (Auckland), Zac Williams (Auckland). Coach: Anthony Peden.
Female Endurance: Rushlee Buchanan (Waikato), Holly Edmondston (South Canterbury), Lauren Ellis (Mid Canterbury), Alysha Keith (Otago), Jaime Nielsen (Waikato), Racquel Sheath (Waikato), Georgia Williams (Auckland). Coach: Brendon Cameron
Male Endurance: Pieter Bulling (Southland), Alex Frame (Canterbury), Aaron Gate (Auckland), Regan Gough (Central Hawkes Bay), Dylan Kennett (South Canterbury), Nick Kergozou (Southland), Hayden Roulston (Mid Canterbury). Coach: Tim Carswell.