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New Zealand teams Meridian and Ricoh have announced their line-ups for the NZCT Cycle Classic Men’s Tour through the Manawatu, January 23-27.
Newly formed team Meridian is led by former New Zealand criterium champion Alex Ray, also known as the “Pocket Rocket”. Ray started riding at age 13 in Auckland Grammar School’s junior D team. Since then has gained extensive national and international experience. He is back home after a six-month stint in Belgium with the Bianchi Lott NHT team, during which he won the Profande Van Lommel criterium.
Race director Jorge Sandoval believes that Ray’s famous fast finishes are something the other sprinters in the field should be wary of. ”Don’t be surprised if he finishes the Classic as a stage winner and with the overall sprinter’s jersey,” says Sandoval.
Joining Ray is hill climb specialist and fellow Aucklander Logan Mort. Mort is two time winner of the King of the Mountains title in the Tour of Tahiti and won third place on the hills in the 2010 Tour of Brazil. Completing the Meridian team is former national under-23 road champion Matt Wheatcroft, Callum Gordon and Pete Smith.
Site manager for Meridian’s Te Apiti wind farm Hamish Scott says Meridian is very pleased to be supporting such a great team. “We’re thrilled to have these champion cyclists in the Meridian cycle team. It’s a great event for the Manawatu and Te Apiti wind farm”.
The Ricoh line-up is headed by Otago brothers Joseph and Tim Chapman. 31-year-old Joseph has been a dominant force in Otago road cycling and is a veteran of Tours of Southland. Auckland lawyer and former Subway team member Nic Lovegrove, 2009 New Zealand track cyclist of the year Sam Steele, and elite triathlete Tom Francis of Wanganui complete the team.
“It’s good to see these domestic teams so well organised and prepared,” says Sandoval. “They are both capable of upsetting the plans of the more favoured Australian professional teams.”
For further information contact race director Jorge Sandoval on 027 446 4300 or visit the event website www.cycletournz.com