New wave of Kiwi cycling talent tipped to shine at World Championships

Niamh Fisher-Black will spearhead a 17-strong squad full of riders with top-level experience.


Niamh Fisher-Black will spearhead a 17-strong squad full of riders with top-level experience.

An exciting new wave of Kiwi cyclists will get the chance to test themselves on the world stage next week.

Cycling New Zealand has named a 17-person squad brimming with talent for the Road World Championships in Flanders, Belgium, which runs from September 19-26.

All the elite riders compete on the men’s and women’s WorldTour while half of the men’s under-23 are signed to WorldTour teams as well.

This is despite several top-line riders being deemed unavailable for selection, including Tokyo Olympians George Bennett, Patrick Bevin, Dion Smith and Georgia Williams.

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The course in Belgium is not suited to a pure climber like Bennett while Bevin, Smith and Williams have been ruled out due to injury or illness.

The elite women’s team is led by SD Worx rising star Niamh Fisher-Black who is currently the best young rider on the Women’s WorldTour.

Fisher-Black has won the white jersey as the best young rider at the Ladies Tour of Norway, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Burgos, while she also placed an outstanding ninth overall at the Giro.

She will be supported by Canyon-SRAM pair Mikayla Harvey and Ella Harris and BePink duo Michaela Drummond and Henrietta Christie in what is believed to be the largest elite women’s squad New Zealand has ever sent to the World Championships.

In the absence of Bennett and Bevin, the elite men’s team will feature veterans Tom Scully (EF Education-Nippo), Shane Archbold (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Jack Bauer (Team Bike Exchange) and newcomer Connor Brown (Team Qhubeka NextHash).

Scully will also compete in the individual time trial, after some outstanding recent results over the timed test, including a fourth place in the opening stage of the Vuelta a España.

Tokyo Olympics rider George Bennett will sit out the Road World Championships.

Christophe Ena/AP

Tokyo Olympics rider George Bennett will sit out the Road World Championships.

There is genuine excitement in the men’s under-23 line-up that includes Finn Fisher-Black (UAE Team Emirates) and Reuben Thompson (Groupama-FDJ), who have both recently signed for WorldTour teams, Laurence Pithie (Groupama-FDJ Conti), Logan Currie (Black Spoke Pro Cycling Academy) and Corbin Strong (SEG Academy).

Fisher-Black will have confidence in the time trial after placing third in that discipline in June’s Baloise Belgium Tour which was staged nearby.

Mitchel Fitzsimons, Jack Carswell and Lewis Bower will compete in the junior men’s race with Carswell and Bower to also contest the time trial.

“New Zealand has never been able to put up collectively strong and proven professionals across the three categories at the world championships, which is something to celebrate on its own,” Cycling New Zealand high performance director Martin Barras said.

Kiwi cyclist Niamh Fisher-Black ready to seize her opportunity with SD Worx.

“In terms of the elite women, Niamh is currently the number-one ranked young rider on the WorldTour and will be supported by some exciting young riders like Mikayla Harvey and Ella Harris, who are both in their second year on the Women’s WorldTour.

“The elite men are all World Tour riders in what will be a brutally tough race over typical Belgium terrain, and we line up a strong combination despite being without several leading riders.“The under-23 men are exciting. Finn Fisher-Black has been progressing impressively and will be a clear contender in the time trial and collectively they have a strong team with the likes of Reuben Thompson having proved himself particularly when the roads go uphill.

The world championships begin with the elite men’s time trial on Monday (NZT). The elite men’s and women’s road races take place next weekend.

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