Commonwealth Games medallists Jack Bauer and Linda Villumsen will head a strong and select New Zealand team to contest this month’s UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Spain.
BikeNZ today confirmed a 10-strong team to contest the week-long championships from 21-28 September in the small city of Ponferrada in northern Spain.
Bauer (Garmin-Sharp), the Commonwealth Games silver medallist in the road race, will be joined by fellow World Tour professionals George Bennett (Cannondale) and Greg Henderson (Lotto-Belisol) for the men’s road.
Villumsen (Wiggle Honda), who won the gold medal in the time trial in Glasgow, will contest the time trial and the road race, where she will be joined by teammate Emily Collins, Reta Trotman (MaxxSolar) and US-based Joanne Kiesanowski (Team TIBCO) in the road race.
Trek Factory Racing rider Jesse Sergent will contest the elite men’s time trial, while James Oram (Bissell Development) and Dion Smith (Hincapie Sportswear Development) will contest the under-23 time trial and road race.
The courses in Ponferrada, near Leon, is challenging but sprinter Henderson, who produced an excellent supporting ride in the Commonwealth Games, is keen to play a similar role for Bauer, while Bennett is outstanding on climbs, pushing into the top-10 overall in the first week of the Vuelta a Espana.
Sergent has enjoyed success in time trials on the World Tour this year finishing third at the Tour de Romandie, fifth at the Tour of California, first at Ronde van Oostenrijk, fifth at the Commonwealth Games and Eneco Tour.
Villumsen enjoyed a breakthrough gold medal at Glasgow and is hoping to reach the top of the podium in the time trial in Spain after finishing runner-up in 2013 and 2011 and third in 2012, 2010 and 2009.
She has been in excellent form on the road, especially last year where she won the overall honours in the Route de France Feminine, sixth at the world championships and recently fifth at the Commonwealth Games.
She will be well supported in the road race by Collins, who thrives on a climber’s course, as does the tenacious Reta Trotman while Kiesanowski will provide proven experience to the team effort.
Oram, the 2013 national under-23 champion, has been on the podium four times in the US this year including second on GC at the Redlands Classic.
Smith has been a stage winner in the US this year on top of an impressive third at the Philadelphia International and seventh on a stage of the 2.1 category Tour of Utah.
“Overall it’s a select team of quality professionals who have made themselves available for what is a course which suits a specific rider who can handle the distance,” said BikeNZ High Performance Director, Mark Elliott.
“Like in Glasgow we have riders going there in support of Jack Bauer and Linda Villumsen. I am delighted that Greg Henderson has put his hand up, and he believes he can ride competitively for a good chunk of the race in support of Jack as he did in Glasgow.
“We expect that George (Bennett) will be ideally suited to this course and also be in contention at the sharp end of the race.
“We had a strong plan under our Director Sportif Craig Geater at the Commonwealth Games and we will be looking for a similar approach at the worlds, but of course we will have all of the best riders in the world.
“Both Linda and Jesse have excellent credentials in the time trial where the course appears to be challenging and more technical than last year.”
The men’s road race is 255kms with 14 laps and 28 climbs, and the women’s race is 127kms with seven laps and 14 climbs.
The week begins with the team time trial on 21 September, followed by three days of racing in time trials and three days of road racing.
The schedule is:
Sunday, September 21: Team time trial – elite women (36km) and men (57km).
Monday, September 22: Individual time trial – junior women 14km, under-23 men 36km.
Tuesday, September 23: Individual time trial - Junior men 30km, elite women 30km.
Wednesday, September 24: Individual time trial – elite men 47km.
Friday, September 26: Road race - Junior women 73km, Under-23 men 182km.
Saturday, September 27: Road race - Junior men 127km, Elite women 127km.
Sunday, September 28: Road race - Elite men 255km
The New Zealand team is:
Men, road race: Jack Bauer (Takaka, Garmin-Sharp), Greg Henderson (Dunedin, Lotto-Belisol), George Bennett (Nelson, Cannondale).
Time trial: Jesse Sergent (Feilding, Trek Factory Racing).
U23 road race and time trial: Dion Smith (Auckland, Hincapie Sportswear Development), James Oram (Auckland, Bissell Development U23).
Women, road race: Linda Villumsen (Christchurch, Wiggle Honda), Reta Trotman(Christchurch, MaxxSolar), Emily Collins(Auckland, Wiggle Honda), Joanne Kiesanowski (Christchurch, Team TIBCO).
Time trial: Villumsen.
CAPTION: Linda Villumsen in action at the start of the Commonwealth Games time trial in Glasgow. Credit: Guy Swarbrick.