An ambitious Jack Bauer is aiming to start his Quick-Step Floors career in the best manner possible with a second New Zealand road title to add to his 2010 victory. The 31-year-old moved to the Belgian WorldTour team after five seasons with the Cannondale-Drapac set up and is motivated for the new challenge as he explained.
"I'm certainly not coming to Napier to make up the numbers. While I am far from my top form and have not got a lot of miles in the legs, I am still in reasonable shape and hope the form from late in the year will carry me over," Bauer said of Sunday's 169km road race in the coastal city on New Zealand's North Island, nestled in the wine-producing region of Hawke's Bay.
"This year is a big one and an important one for me for sure. I am really excited at the prospects and at the same time motivated to do well. Quick-Step is a premier team who are used to winning the biggest races and so there will also be expectations on all of us to perform. That motivation drives me for sure and I relish the prospect ahead."
Bauer won a stage of the Tour of Britain last year for his first victory since the 2014 Herald Sun Tour prologue. With his new WorldTour team, Bauer is aiming to return to the winner's list on a more regular basis, starting with the nationals.
"I want to ride for a team that wants me and one in which there are opportunities to further myself. Quick-Step had some riders leaving which presented an opportunity for me and so far it is exciting. They are just a much bigger machine in every facet of the sport and accordingly they want and expect results," he added.
While the course is one that Bauer will be riding for the first time, he is expecting to become quickly familiarised and take home the jersey.
"I rode in the championships there in 2008 but that was out in the country. While the initial loop is out in that area, I'm excited to race in the loops around the central city. I've heard so much about how good this course is," he explained.
Fellow WorldTour riders Shane Archbold (Bora Hansgrohe), George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), Sam Bewley (Orica-Scott) and Tom Scully (Cannondale-Drapac) will be looking to stop Bauer making it two wins. As will defending champion Jason Christie and recent Tour of Southland winner Aaron Gate.