The country’s leading cyclists take their first serious pedal strokes this weekend towards next year’s Commonwealth Games in a critical campaign.
BikeNZ will stage one of its biggest camps ever from Sunday in Invercargill to prepare for the upcoming international season.
Twenty-four riders, both male and female, across all track disciplines, will target a massive summer of competition including three World Cups, the first UCI Tier One event in New Zealand, the Oceania Championships and the World Championships.
This is followed by the New Zealand Championships in March, which will be the first event in the new Avantidrome in Cambridge.
The busy season leads ultimately to next July’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The group in camp comprises both men’s and women’s squads across endurance and sprint.
“The October camp marks the start of our international season,” said head coach Dayle Cheatley.
“It is exciting to bring the full squads together as we start to look at riders who will make up teams for the World Cups, the Commonwealth Games and ultimately the 2016 Olympic Games.”
The first target is the UCI World Cup on 1-3 November in Manchester ahead of the first UCI Tier One event staged in this country. The Festival of Speed meet is on 15-17 November, followed by the Oceania Championships, both at the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome in Invercargill.
The campaign moves to Mexico for the second World Cup in December with the final World Cup in January ahead of the World Championships in Colombia in February.
BikeNZ riders have qualified in all targeted events for the upcoming World Cup season including maximum quotas in the men’s sprint and endurance events.
“The new UCI qualifying system has been a demanding and costly process but we have come out of the other side of it with excellent qualifying points and have achieved our objectives,” Cheatley said.
“The bonus for us with the new system, which requires us to attend Tier One and World Cup events, is that our riders are exposed to more international competition and events that without this procedure, we would not normally do.”
The men’s endurance group comprises the riders who have been based at BikeNZ’s European base in Belgium during the northern summer, led by world omnium champion Aaron Gate and double Olympic medallist Marc Ryan.
Missing is Ryan’s Olympic teammate Westley Gough who is recovering from injury.
The powerful men’s sprint squad, led by Olympic medallist Simon van Velthooven, includes promising young rider Tom Beadle from Southland.
The women’s endurance group included world individual pursuit champion Alison Shanks, who is back in full training following surgery on her hip.
She is joined by her Olympic pursuit teammates and a trio of promising young riders including outstanding Auckland prospect Georgia Williams, who has just completed her first full season with professional team Be Pink in Europe.
The sprinters comprise Katie Schofield (Otago), former junior world medallists Stephanie McKenzie and Paige Paterson.
The squads are:
Men, endurance: Aaron Gate (Auckland), Marc Ryan (Timaru), Shane Archbold (Timaru), Dylan Kennett (Waimate), Pieter Bulling (Invercargill), Hayden McCormick (Te Awamutu), Hamish Schreurs (Christchurch), Cameron Karwowski (Invercargill).
Sprint: Simon van Velthooven (Palmerston North), Eddie Dawkins (Invercargill), Matt Archibald (Invercargill), Ethan Mitchell (Auckland), Sam Webster (Auckland), Tom Beadle (Invercargill).
Women, endurance: Alison Shanks (Dunedin), Jaime Nielsen (Hamilton), Lauren Ellis (Hinds), Rushlee Buchanan (Te Awamutu), Georgia Williams (Auckland), Alysha Keith (Dunedin), Sophie Williamson (Alexandra).
Sprint: Katie Schofield (Dunedin), Stephanie McKenzie (Invercargill), Paige Paterson (Auckland).