The Australian-based Drapac Porsche Cycling Team will make their first ever appearance in New Zealand for next month's Trust House Cycle Classic taking place January 21 to 25, according to race director Jorge Sandoval.
"I wanted to have this team here for years, but because of their reputation they are never short of invitations to other bike races in Asia or the Middle East at the same time as our race," said Sandoval. "Now they are coming and should be a top contender to give Australia another win in the 22-year Tour of Wellington history."
Drapac Porsche will be led by 1999 Junior World Champion and current South Australian Champion Gene Bates, who has lived and raced in Europe for the past eight years. Bates rode professionally for the Swiss team LPR in 2007 and 2008, competing in ProTour events including Tirreno-Adriatico, Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Lombardy. Also included on the team's roster are fellow Australians Peter McDonald, Pip Grinter, Mark O'Brien and Thomas Palmer.
"I have seen this team in action at other races overseas and they are very professional," said Sandoval. "They are coming to Wellington very well-prepared with a full team of riders, masseurs, mechanics and coaches. Obviously they want to do well and collect valuable UCI points. There will be other top riders in the Trust House Cycle Classic but if this team rides as they should, they would have to be considered a top contender to win the event."
Drapac Porsche, registered as a UCI Continental Team in the Oceania Region, will compete at the Trust House Cycle Classic as part of its 2009 schedule of UCI-classified events which also includes races in Asia, Europe, Australia and North America.