Cycling Southland’s Sequoia Cooper will line up in the BikeNZ National Team for the NZCT Women’s Tour of New Zealand in the Manawatu this week.
BikeNZ has selected a six-women team with a mix of skills and experience to provide valuable training and learning opportunities for some of New Zealand’s top women road riders.
Cooper will be joined by Beijing Olympian Rosara Joseph (Wellington) who is better known for her mountain biking success, experienced New Zealand track representative Kaytee Boyd (Waiuku), Emily Collins (Auckland), Kate Chilcott (Auckland), and Reta Trotman (Kaiapoi) for the five-day tour starting in Palmerston North tomorrow.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the riders to get international racing experience here at home. There is a good mix of experience and newcomers in the team. This is the chance for another tier of riders to put their hands up and show what they are capable of,” said Andy Reid, BikeNZ Team Manager.
“Our main objective is to ride cohesively as a team, which will lead to results on the general classification and the chance of a stage win.” Reid will be joined by former national road cycling champion Catherine Cheatley in the Director Sportif role. An injury last year has forced Cheatley off the bike, but she is relishing the opportunity to get a taste of the other side of the sport.
“Cath has a huge amount of experience, has achieved a great deal on the bike and brings a new dimension to the team” said Reid.
Cooper and Boyd, both members of the New Zealand track squad will be using the 494 kilometre tour to get some solid endurance kilometres into their legs.
Joseph will be using the intense racing to increase her fitness ahead of the upcoming Oceania Mountain Bike Championships and World Cup Season as she looks to secure herself Olympic selection.
Collins joins the BikeNZ National Team after a successful showing at the 2011 event where she won the under 23 classification. She and teammate Chilcott are kicking off their international season with this Tour before heading to the US to race with Vanderkitten Focus.
They will be joined by up-and-comer Trotman who burst onto the competitive cycling scene earlier this year at the RaboDirect Elite Road National Championships. She was involved in the defining break of four riders but a crash late in the piece marred her chances of a podium position.
There is a strong international field for the Tour, which includes reigning Olympic champion Kirstin Armstrong (US National Team), former World Champions Tatiana Guderzo (Italian National Team) and Judith Arndt (GreenEdge-AIS).
Defending Tour champion Ardnt leads an experienced GreenEdge-AIS team including Kiwi Commonwealth Games medallist Linda Villumsen.
The field also includes teams from USA, Japan, China, Australia, Italy and other top riders from Canada, England, New Zealand and Australia.
The racing starts on Wednesday evening with a 7.1km time trial around Massey University with the Tour continuing until Sunday.