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BikeNZ will boast with a strong line-up of most European-based professionals for next month’s UCI Road World Championships in the Netherlands.
Olympic medallists Jesse Sergent and Sam Bewley will be joined by three-time world championship medallist Linda Villumsen in the New Zealand team for the championships from 16-23 September.
The road course presents a tough climbing challenge, based in Limberg, the southern-most province in the Netherlands in a renowned cycling stronghold. There are a range of different time trial courses that all finish with a climb up the Cauberg hill near Valkenburg.
Selectors have finalised the women’s and men’s under 23 road race teams and the men’s time trial, with final selections to take place in the men’s road and under-23 time trial combinations.
The women’s line-up is headed by Olympian Linda Villumsen, who finished just 1.8 seconds off the podium in the time trial in London and keen to add to her bag of world championship medals comprising bronze medals in 2010 and 2011 and silver in Copenhagen last year.
Villumsen, who has been in outstanding form for the Orica GreenEdge team this year, will also ride the road race with a trio of talented young Auckland riders, Emily Collins, Emma Crum and Kate Chilcott.
Crum, 23, has been riding with success for the French-based UCI team ASPTT Dijon-BCF, building on her stage win in the Tour of New Zealand in the summer .
Collins and Chilcott, both 21, have both raced in the USA this year for the Vanderkitten-Focus pro team where they notched up a number of podium performances with Collins also enjoying success in Europe this month, winning best young rider and finishing fifth overall in the Lotto Decca tour in Belgium.
Sergent (Radioshack Nissan Trek) and Bewley (Orica GreenEdge), who were bronze medallist in the team pursuit in London, will show their pursuiting talents in the team time trial at the Netherlands.
Sergent is joined by fellow Olympian Jack Bauer (Garmin Barracuda), Julian Dean (GreenEdge) and the RadioShack Nissan Trek pair of Hayden Roulston and George Bennett who will all be considered for the three spots New Zealand has qualified in the road race. Olympian Greg Henderson withdrew with injury.
“Form is a key factor at the end of a long season so we need to check with our key riders on their fitness including those who will come off the Vuelta a Espana,” said Bike NZ’s Andy Reid.
“Jack has had a long season and we will check out how Julian and Hayden rebound after the Vuelta,” Reid said.
“This is also a demanding course and we need to select a combination to best cover our options here.”
The elite team will have the services of Rotorua’s Craig Geater who swaps the spanner for the job as Director Sportif for the world championships. Geater is the head mechanic for GreenEdge, having held that position with Radioshack Nissan Trek among a number of Pro Tour teams.
“Craig has been in the thick of the action sitting alongside the best bosses in the business for more than 20 grand tours. He has forgotten more about cycling tactics than most of us have learned. We are very fortunate to have him.”
Meanwhile Tom David (Auckland), Josh Atkins (Christchurch) and Tom Scully (Southland) have been named for the under-23 road race, while South Canterbury’s Jason Christie will be joined by either Michael Vink (Christchurch) or James Oram (North Harbour) in the time trial.
David won Belgium’s biggest amateur race this year, Atkins won the Tour of Southland on his way to a season with the Trek Livestrong pro outfit while Scully, bouncing back from a major crash three years ago, is currently on trial for the Garmin Barracuda World Tour team.
The championships begin for New Zealand with the under-23 time trial on 17 September, followed by the elite women the following day and the elite men on 19 September. The under-23 and women’s road race is on 22 September with the elite men the following day.
The BikeNZ teams are:
Elite men, road race (3 to be selected from): Jack Bauer, Julian Dean, Hayden Roulston, Jesse Sergent, George Bennett.
Road race: Sergent, Sam Bewley.
Elite women road race: Linda Villumsen, Emily Collins, Emma Crum, Kate Chilcott.
Time trial: Villumsen.
Under-23 road race: Tom David, Josh Atkins, Tom Scully.
Time trial: Jason Christie plus one more from Michael Vink, James Oram.
Note: The junior teams were named previously.
For details: www.bikenz.org.nz