New Zealand women tune up with World Cups

New Zealand's women's cycling team will probably use the two southern hemisphere rounds of the World Cup as final preparation for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne next month.

The team plans to line up for the Geelong round in Australia, February 26, return home for the March 5 round in Wellington and cross the Tasman again for the Commonwealth games in Melbourne, which starts March 15.

Bike New Zealand high performance director Michael Flynn said that from a technical point of view the Wellington race will provide a perfect build-up for his riders, with the course taking the riders up the very steep Boulcott Street hill in each of the 20 laps of the 6.5 kilometre course.

"It's as good a hit-out as we can get from a technical perspective because the course they'll be on in Melbourne a couple of weeks later is similar to the Wellington one -- a lot of turns, a lot of hills," he said. "Ideally we'd have liked it to be a week later, but that's OK. We'll leave for Australia the next day and do our final preparation at our base in Launceston."

Flynn said the quality of the opposition in Wellington will ensure his riders are tested, with several of Europe's top riders confirmed in the field.

"You don't come all the way from Europe, spend all that money, if you're not going to win some points. For the other Commonwealth riders too it'll be the last part of their final preparations, so it'll be a good race,'' he said.

Race director Jorge Sandoval said confirmation of the New Zealand team's entry was good news. "It's great to see the New Zealand national team racing world class opposition right here, in our own country. That doesn't happen often," he said.

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