A 30-strong New Zealand Cycling Team has been named for next month’s XXII Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
The cycling team, comprising track, road and mountain bike, is the second biggest of the New Zealand sports to be represented at the Games.
The team is a great mix of experience and new talent, with 15 rookies and 15 with Games experience. Sprinter, Sam Webster will be the old hand in the squad, attending his fourth Commonwealth Games and looking to add to his seven medals, four of which are gold.
Others with considerable experience include road professional Jack Bauer, who won a silver medal in the road race in Glasgow and captained the team at the Gold Coast.
Aaron Gate, who has been in the form of his life over the last two years, finished fourth in the Points race back in Delhi 2010, and returns with world titles to his name, looking to erase memories of his fateful crash at the Tokyo Olympics last year.
There is considerable excitement at the number of UCI WorldTour professional road riders who have put up their hands for selection for the time trial on 4 August and road race on 7 August.
The women’s team includes the world’s top ranked young rider of 2021, Niamh Fisher-Black, and fellow young kiwi stars in Mikayla Harvey and Ella Harris, Gold Coast silver medallist Georgia Williams and Henrietta Christie complete the women’s road team.
The men’s team comprises Bauer, Gate Dion Smith, and the in-form Patrick Bevin. They will be supported by endurance track riders including fellow WorldTour riders Corbin Strong and Campbell Stewart, and Shane Archbold.
The men’s endurance track team includes three riders from the quartet that went under the world record by two seconds in Tokyo, and will be hoping to set things right, with their competition at the Lee Valley Velodrome, used for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The women’s endurance squad will likely focus more on individual events, with a number of the Tokyo squad retired or recovering from illness and injury. But they have Bryony Botha, who will be a real hope in individual pursuit, after breaking the New Zealand record four times over the summer.
Also in form is the outstanding young prospect, Ally Wollaston, who has performed impressively in a number of recent competitions, as well as success for her professional road team.
There is excitement with a young women’s sprint team, with an average age of 21, led by Tokyo medallist Ellesse Andrews, with the addition of BMX Olympic semi-finalist Rebecca Petch who will be strong medal hopes in team sprint. The male sprinters will look more for individual honours led by Webster and Sam Dakin.
Mountain bike should again provide medals with world No 11 Anton Cooper and Sam Gaze both with a gold and silver from 2014 and 2018 along with world No 38 Ben Oliver, fourth in the Gold Coast.
“With Tokyo pushing out a further year, this has been a tight timeframe for rebuilding, and like many, we have had illness and injury though these Covid times,” said Cycling New Zealand CEO, Monica Robbers.
“That aside, we think this is a very strong group of riders. Half are very experienced professionals with success over previous Games and on the world scene, and the other half are young and exciting riders for the future.
“The Commonwealth Games is an important competition in its own right, as well as the only multi-sport Games for our riders to learn from in terms of Olympic aspirations.
“We are thrilled that so many European-based professionals have put up their hands which shows how much it means to wear the silver fern and to do our sport and our country proud.”
NZOC CEO Nicki Nicol extended her congratulations to the athletes.
“Well done to all the athletes named today,” said Nicol.
“New Zealand has a proud history in cycling at the Commonwealth Games. It is our most successful sport in terms of medals with a staggering 114 across many great campaigns, and we look forward to this group adding to that tally and continuing that legacy next month.”
The road riders and mountain bikers are already competing in Europe, while the track riders are either in Europe or USA on road campaigns. The sprinters head to USA this week and some will compete in the Nations Cup in Colombia before the track team pre-games camp in Switzerland.
The naming takes the total number of athletes currently selected to the New Zealand Team for Birmingham 2022 to 147.
The team is:
Female: Ally Wollaston, Henrietta Christie, Niamh Fisher-Black, Ella Harris, Mikayla Harvey, Georgia Williams,.
Male: Shane Archbold, Jack Bauer, Patrick Bevin, Dion Smith, Aaron Gate, Campbell Stewart.
Female: Ellesse Andrews, Olivia King, Rebecca Petch, Emily Shearman
Male: Sam Dakin, Bradley Knipe, Callum Saunders, Sam Webster.
Female: Bryony Botha, Michaela Drummond, Emily Shearman, Ally Wollaston.
Male: Aaron Gate, George Jackson, Jordan Kerby, Nick Kergozou, Tom Sexton, Campbell Stewart, Corbin Strong.
Male: Anton Cooper, Sam Gaze, Ben Oliver.