Defending champion, Trek-Zookepers Café Team, led by 2006 and 2007 winner Hayden Roulston, is set to return to this month's 21st Trust House Cycle Tour of Wellington, January 29 to February 2.
Team director Ron Cheatley has put a formidable team together to help Roulston to a hat trick of tour victories. Only one other rider has won three consecutive tours in its 21 year history; Brian Fowler won the event four times from 1989 to 1992.
Roulston, who won this 2007's Tour of Southland and a gold medal at last month's Oceania track Championships, is sure to be one of the front runners for the 2008 event. Alongside him will be one of the toughest road riders in New Zealand, Gordon McCauley. McCauley will provide help to Roulston but also to take the chances if any opportunity arises.
Roulston defied his doctors last year to win the New Zealand road title after being diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition.
Other members of the Trek-Zookeepers Café Team include Sam Bewley, a member of the New Zealand track cycling squad who represented his country in the teams pursuit event at this year's World Championships. Bewley won the gold medal at the 2005 World Junior Championship. He's now made his mark on the road racing scene winning this year's national time trial and the criterium championship.
Paul Odlin from Nelson is the fourth member of the team. Paul is a work horse who was vital in Roulston's win in this year's Tour of Southland and will do everything he can to get Roulston and MacCauley to the front of the race in the closing kilometres of every stage. The final member is up and coming rider Michael Torckler from New Plymouth.
"With Hayden and Gordon in the team, they have two potential tour winners," said race director Jorge Sandoval. "Unfortunately for them, there will be some other top riders who will do anything possible to win the race, especially the Australian riders."