Four Southlanders feature in the Cycling New Zealand team to compete at the final UCI World Cup competition in Hong Kong this month.
The 2013 World Champion Aaron Gate will also return to international competition as part of a 15-strong team to compete in Hong Kong, which will finalise qualification for the World Championships to be held in London in March.
The Auckland rider contested the opening World Cup before being given a break from competition to build a solid training block for the six-discipline omnium.
The team is a mix of experience and emerging young riders, with half of the squad teenagers.
With the men’s world champion team pursuit and team sprint both high in the UCI world rankings - at second and third respectively - the Hong Kong event offers opportunity to further develop depth.
The men’s team pursuit sees the return from injury of double Olympic medallist Marc Ryan and his fellow world champion team mate Dylan Kennett.
They will be joined by two exciting 17 year olds in Southland’s Tom Sexton and Manawatu’s Campbell Stewart, a double junior world champion, while the 2014 junior world champion Luke Mudgway (Palmerston North) is back after competing in the first World Cup in Cali.
World championship medallist Matt Archibald will head the team sprint squad along with 20-year-olds in fellow Southlander Jeremy Presbury and Auckland’s Zac Williams.
With women’s team pursuit also well placed in fifth on the world rankings, the selectors have opted for an exciting squad headed by experienced Waikato rider Philippa Sutton. She guides an exciting young of world junior champions Bryony Botha and 17 year old Michaela Drummond, 19 year old Nina Wollaston and South Canterbury teen Holly Edmondston.
The Waimate rider, 19, will be looking to up her rankings in the omnium after showing considerable enterprise in international competition despite her youth.
The leading sprint pair of Natasha Hansen and Katie Schofield has a chance to cement an all-important top eight rankings for the team sprint, while Hansen will be looking to boost her rankings in the sprint and keirin.
The squad, which will also contest the scratch and points races, is back in full training at the Avantidrome, and will leave for Hong Kong next week.
The team is:
Endurance, male: Aaron Gate (Auckland), Dylan Kennett (Waimate), Luke Mudgway (Palmerston North), Marc Ryan (Timaru), Tom Sexton (Invercargill), Campbell Stewart (Palmerston North).
Female: Bryony Botha (Auckland), Holly Edmondston (Waimate), Nina Wollaston (Auckland), Michaela Drummond (Palmerston North), Philippa Sutton (Hamilton).
Sprint, male: Jeremy Presbury (Invercargill), Matt Archibald (Invercargill), Zac Williams (Auckland).
Female: Natasha Hansen (Invercargill), Katie Schofield (Dunedin).