BikeNZ PureBlack Racing will make its debut as a rebranded outfit when it takes on the 10-stage Tour de Langkawi later this week. The team earned an invite to the prestigious Malaysian race through its classification as a national team courtesy of its BikeNZ affiliation. It's a sort of rebirth for the iconic squad having come so close to folding late last year before the efforts of the national association, and several PureBlack Racing supporters banded together to continue the team.
Elite men's national road champion James Williamson will spearhead BikeNZ PureBlack's attack on the Malaysian race, with climbing specialists Michael Torckler and Joe Cooper good chances for the overall, particularly if they can hold on, on the critical uphill battle at Genting Highlands.
Though Tim Gudsell had initially been down to race for the team, he'll be replaced by the late inclusion of Sam Bewley who will return to the road after a strong performance with the NZ pursuit team at the London World Cup. Bewley's strength on the flats and refined time trial abilities will make him a contender on multiple stages, and bolsters the overall versatility of the BikeNZ PureBlack racing set up in Malaysia.
"I’m excited to head to Langkawi for the Tour. It’s always been a tour that has caught my fancy," said Bewley. "I'm racing the Tour as part of my preparation for the Track World Championships.
"I discussed the possibility of doing this with national track coach Tim Carswell and he believed it would be good for my preparation. I'll pick my days, some stages I'll race hard and see if I can get a result. Others I'll take a bit easier in order to be in the best nick I can for Melbourne."
A former RadioShack professional rider, Bewley also brings extensive team racing knowledge to the team.
"I've raced tours of this level and higher the past two season, so hopefully I can help the team as a whole get some results."
Langkawi is the first major race in a big Asian block of events for the BikeNZ Pure Black Racing team, with the team set for appearances in five major tours in the South East Asia region over the next three months.
BikeNZ PureBlack Racing for Le Tour de Langkawi:
James Williamson (NZl), Roman van Uden (NZl), Michael Torckler (NZl), Joe Cooper (NZl), Louis Crosby (NZl) and Sam Bewley (NZl)