Southland rider Cam Karwowski will race in a strong BikeNZ European campaign when he lines up with an impressive eight-strong team to contest the prestigious Olympias Tour in the Netherlands starting on Monday (NZ time).
The week-long Tour of The Netherlands is a UCI 2.2 category event which attracts an invited group of 16 teams made up of leading Pro Continental teams, as well as some national combinations including Australia and New Zealand.
The tour will be the first outing for the BikeNZ endurance track squad based in nearby Belgium as they begin their campaign towards next year’s Commonwealth Games.
The team also includes several New Zealand road riders who are on contracts in Europe and have taken the opportunity to compete in a strong event as part of the national team.
BikeNZ head coach Dayle Cheatley said it is an excellent event to start their overall campaign.
“Our squad based in Belgium has earned a good reputation over the last two or three years with race promoters in Europe and therefore our campaign head, Stephen Connell has done a great job working to gain invitations to these top events,” Cheatley said.
“Our experience is that endurance track riders benefit significantly from a strong road base. Training and racing at this level on the road in Europe is something we can’t replicate at home.
“Additionally we want to work with our young road riders as well. Tours like this offer a chance for us to include them into our system and provide them a level of riding that they may not be able to get with their respective pro or semi-pro teams.”
The team will be headed by experienced double Olympic medallist Marc Ryan, who has taken up a leadership role with the squad. He will be joined by fellow track endurance riders Michael Vink, Karwowski, Hamish Schreurs and Hayden McCormick, who is splitting his time with the Lotto Belisol development team.
The road riders taking part are Alex Frame, currently with the Thuringer Energie team in Germany, Kieran Hambrook who riding for T.palm Wallon in Belgium and the experienced Clinton Avery, who is based in Belgium and rides for Champion Systems.
The tour, which began in 1909, was formally called the Olympias Tour when it became a fixture in 1927 as a forerunner to the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. It has been an annual event since 1955 and many top names have won the Tour including current Rabobank professionals Jetse Bol and Lars Boom and former track world champion Taylor Phinney (BMC).
The event begins with a 3.2km prologue on the south coast of the Netherlands, followed by a 180km stage near Amsterdam, a 173km stage to Alkmaar in the north, a 158km stage to Gendringer on the western border with Germany, a 192 km stage to Voerendaal in the south close to Belgium and Germany before a 14km individual time trial and final 80km lap final in Reuver on the western border with Germany.
“It is predominantly flat but a bit like the Tour of Southland, it is more about managing the strong winds that often blow,” Cheatley said.
“The race is ideal for is and going forward it fits well with our plans in the build-up to next year’s Commonwealth Games and on to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“And it is an ideal way to provide opportunities for our riders looking to develop a career on the road.”
CAPTION: Cameron Karwowski racing in his last European campaign for the BikeNZ squad.