One of the biggest teams ever selected to represent New Zealand at a Road World Championships has been announced to compete at this year's event in Madrid. Included in the squad are a full complement of women and men’s U23 riders, as BikeNZ will send a complete squad of 15 riders.
2004 Olympic Gold Medallist Sarah Ulmer is included in the team in her first outing at the Road World Championships to contest the individual time trial. After quitting track racing in April, Ulmer took ninth place overall in the Tour of Italy, and has been training with the New Zealand women's team at their base in Limoux, France under the guidance of national coach Jacques Landry.
One of her NZ-based coaches, Terry Gyde, told NZPA "It was a sensational result [in Italy] and we were quite surprised. But it knocked her socks off and we've just been helping her recuperate. Because she had not done a lot of foundation work - after the Olympics she had six to eight months off her bike - she ran out of base and it caught up with her."
According to Gyde, the focus for Ulmer will be on next year's worlds, but, "Madrid is an opportunity to see how she's going...it will disclose any frailties she's got." Gyde said he was hopeful of a strong result, but realistic about the Olympic champion's chances. "We would be dreaming if we thought she could go out and win it. If she could put on a top-10 effort we'd be pretty stoked. We would be amazed if she did anything better than that."
Although Ulmer's main aim is the time trial, she'll be joined by World Cup riders Joanne Kiesanowski, Michelle Hyland and Melissa Holt for the women's road race who ply their trade in Europe, as part of a women's squad with the potential to perform very well.
Making up the men’s squad are Julian Dean, fully recovered from his pre-TdF crash; Heath Blackgrove, and top track rider Greg Henderson. Dean is currently riding the Vuelta a Espana, and Henderson is fresh off the North American season in the US, where he has had a number of top results.
The full squad
Elite Men - Road Race: Heath Blackgrove, Julian Dean, Greg Henderson; reserves - Fraser Macmaster, Jeremy Vennell, Glen Mitchell
Elite Women - Road Race: Tammy Boyd, Toni Bradshaw, Johanna Buick ,Michelle Hyland, Joanne Kiesanowski, Sarah Ulmer; reserves - Melissa Holt, Michelle Kiesanowski, Dale Tye
Individual Time Trial: Sarah Ulmer, Melissa Holt
Under 23 Men - Road Race: Tim Gudsell, Logan Hutchings, Troy Klink, Peter Latham, Scott Lyttle; Reserves - Luke McCarthy
Individual Time Trial: Peter Latham, Tim Gudsell