Finn Fisher-Black … signed with Jumbo Visma development academy. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Young stars fill NZ team for Classic

CYCLING

Cycling New Zealand has named a young but accomplished team to chase victory in the New Zealand Cycle Classic starting in Wairarapa next week.

World omnium champion Campbell Stewart. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

They include members of the national elite track squad along with some of the country’s emerging road talent such as reigning omnium world champion Campbell Stewart, Christchurch’s Bailey O’Donnell a former world junior track champion and national Under-19 road rider Jacob Hannan from Auckland.

Then there are three riders who are signed to some of the biggest Under-23 development professional teams in the world.

Nelson’s Finn Fisher-Black is going to world tour team Jumbo Visma’s development academy, Southland’s Corbin Strong has signed with SEG Racing and Auckland’s Connor Brown with NTT Continental [formerly Dimension Data].

They will line up alongside 17 other teams to contest the five-stage Classic, which is a UCI-sanctioned 2.2 category stage race.

Cycling NZ’s Graeme Hunn said on Tuesday numerous standing New Zealand riders had earned recognition and invaluable experience competing in the Classic and he was confident this year’s team would be no exception.

“There is an esteemed list of former winners from New Zealand who have gone on to establish outstanding careers on the road including the likes of George Bennett, with his success in the Cycle Classic helping promote his cause,” Hunn said.

“We have an exciting group of young riders who have all had some level of international experience and success on the road and the track. Several of them are heading overseas to join quality international professional teams this year.”

“We also have two of our most exciting young track riders competing, who have reputations on the road, but will be using this tour as they build towards their goal of selection for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the track.”

Race director Jorge Sandoval said he was pleased to have the national team in the race.

“I think it’s great that Cycling New Zealand has selected such a young and exciting team, with some of the best talent in the country,” he said. “I wish them well.”

The Classic begins in Masterton next Wednesday with a 122km stage. Over the following four days, the field of 108 riders, representing 12 nationalities, will complete 668.6km in total.

Stages will be raced around the townships of Masterton, Carterton, and Martinborough as well as on roads that weave through rolling rural countryside and past olive groves and vineyards.

The Classic is supported by Trust House, WBS, Mobile Communications Service, WIZwireless, Fagan Motors, Mitre 10 Mega Masterton, and Lion Foundation as well as all three district councils.

“My team and I are very grateful for all the support from our sponsors and key stakeholders and together look forward to making this New Zealand’s biggest international cycle tour,” Sandoval said.