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Star Kiwi cyclist George Bennett will lead a powerful New Zealand team for the 2017 UCI Road Championships.

Cycling New Zealand has named a 13-strong team for the week long championships to be held in Bergen, Norway from 16-24 September.

Bennett is joined by double Olympic and eight-time world rowing champion Hamish Bond, who announced his move to cycling after the Rio Olympics.

Bennett will contest the individual time trial at the world championships.

Joining him in the time trial is Bond, who moved his focus from rowing to cycling after Rio. Bond finished runner-up to Jack Bauer in the time trial at the national championships before training and racing in UK, with a time trial specific coaching group.

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Above: Hamish Bond on the bike                      Photo: John Cowpland

2014 Commonwealth Games medallist Jack Bauer will contest the road race. Bauer produced a strong performance in the Tour de France and was a key figure in the train that set up sprinter Marcel Kittel for five stage wins.

“It is a very powerful New Zealand team and there was a lot of competition especially for the men’s road race where we only had three quota spots,” said Cycling New Zealand Chief Executive, Andrew Matheson.

“All three riders we have selected for the road race were outstanding in the Tour de France. It is probably the strongest competition we have ever had to select the men’s road race team.”

“George Bennett signalled to us that he was keen to compete in the time trial because of the unique nature of this course which should suit him.”

“We have been so impressed with the performances and the attitude from Hamish in his switch to cycling. It is very clear to us why he has achieved so much because has left no stone unturned in his preparation including a lot of work on the course.”

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Above: George Bennett

In the women’s competition, Linda Villumsen will ride the road race and the time trial. Villumsen returned to the Women’s World Tour following a break after the Rio Olympics, with some eye-catching efforts for her Team VeloCONCEPT.

She is joined in the road race by Rio Olympian on the track, Georgia Williams, 23, who has been a revelation for the Orica-Scott World Tour team this year, earning plaudits from team bosses.

“We are delighted that Linda has returned to the top of the women’s tour, and Georgia has really prospered with her opportunity with Orica-Scott, who are one of the powerhouse women’s teams,” said Mr Matheson.

The team is:

Elite Men, road race: Jack Bauer (Quick Step-Floors, Takaka), Patrick Bevin (Cannondale-Drapac, Taupo), Dion Smith (Wanty Group Gobert, Auckland). Reserves: Sam Bewley (Orica-Scott, Rotorua), Aaron Gate (Aqua Blue Sport, Auckland).

Time Trial: George Bennett (Lotto NL-Jumbo, Nelson), Hamish Bond (Cambridge). Reserve: Bevin

Elite Women, Road Race: Linda Villumsen (Team VeloCONCEPT, Christchurch), Georgia Williams (Orica-Scott, Auckland).

Time Trial: Villumsen, Jaime Nielsen (Cambridge).

U23 Men, Road Race: Regan Gough (An Post-Chain Reaction, Hawkes Bay), Sam Dobbs (Attaque Team Gusto, Cambridge), Luke Mudgway (RTS Monton Racing, Hawkes Bay).

Time Trial: Gough

Junior Men, Road race and time trial: Oscar Elworthy (Barfoot & Thompson Cycling New Zealand  Performance Hub, Auckland), Ben Hamilton (Barfoot & Thompson Cycling New Zealand Performance Hub, Auckland).

Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Hamish Bond George Bennett Linda Villumsen
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