The men's team pursuit combination (from left) Jesse Sergent, Marc Ryan, Sam Bewley and Aaron Gate.
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Riders to use event as warm-up for Olympic bid
New Zealand track riders lining up for selection at the London Olympic Games later this year have been chosen in a national team for the NZ road cycling classic in the Manawatu, which starts on January 25.
Pursuiters Sam Bewley, Mark Ryan and Aaron Gate, who are promising to be among the medallists in London, have been named alongside world champion omnium silver medallist Shane Archbold, and time trialist Myron Simpson. With race director Jorge Sandoval being forced by the long-term closure of the Manawatu Gorge to eliminate the planned tough hill climbing stages from the five-day tour the shorter, flatter terrain the event will now be contested over will better suit a number of the national team members.
They will be expected to feature in the anticipated sprint finishes at the end of most stages.
While a number of New Zealand’s elite riders cannot compete because of their commitments to their Pro Tour teams, including last year’s classic winner, George Bennett, of Nelson, who now rides for RadioShack-Nissan-Trek alongside Hayden Roulston and Jesse Sergent, the country’s depth is reflected among the other team entries.
A late addition from Australia is its newest professional team, Jayco-2XU. It will be managed by two-time Olympian Patrick Jonker, who in a distinguished career contested the Tour de France on five occasions in the 1990s, and rode in the 1989 NZ classic around the roads of Hutt Valley and Wellington.
For the first time the NZ classic will be raced in the Manawatu region, from January 25 to 29.