Brutal course alters BikeNZ teams selection
The brutal nature of the Fiesole course for the world road cycling championships in Italy later this month has had a strong bearing on the BikeNZ team selected to ride it.
The 272km men's road course includes 10 laps of a 16.5km circuit in Fiesole after an initial 107km ride from Florence.
In total there is 60km of climbing, including a vertical climb of 3km. The women's course is 130km over most of the same terrain.
Pro Tour riders Hayden Roulston and Greg Henderson have made themselves unavailable for a team which will be led by talented climber George Bennett, with support from fellow professionals Sam Bewley and Jack Bauer, BikeNZ high performance director Mark Elliott said.
''There's a couple of guys who didn't make themselves available, just because of the tough nature of the course. I think Greg Henderson's comment was that he doesn't defy gravity,'' Elliot said.
Linda Villumsen, who has won three bronze and a silver medal in the time trial at the past four world championships, will head the women's team in both the time trial and road race.
She has been in strong form since taking a break following a heart-breaking fourth place in the Olympic time trial in London.
Riding for Wiggle Honda, Villumsen, the only New Zealander to win a world road championship medal, has won overall honours at La Route de France, finished fifth at the Thuringen Rundfahrt and 14th overall at the Giro d'Italia.
She was leading the Tour of Ardeche currently after winning the prologue. Elliott said New Zealand riders were traditionally up against it at the world championships.
''Especially with the guys, you are up against teams of six or eight and the reality is it's a team sport, even though an individual wins," she said.
"I think for us at the moment it's about giving someone like George Bennett, who has clearly got some incredible skills - a young guy, a great climber - and we know the Rio course is likely to have some climbing involved as well so I guess we are grooming him for some of the bigger one-day classics that the Olympics is all about.
''With the girls I think the exciting thing is we've got a massive bunch of young girls performing in teams in Europe. For us, that's building some capacity around Linda Villumsen, which is pretty exciting.''
The world championships run from September 22 to 29.
Elite men: George Bennett (Nelson, Radioshack Leopard, road race); Jack Bauer (Takaka, Garmin Sharp, road race); Jesse Sergent (Feilding, Radioshack Leopard, Time trial); Sam Bewley (Rotorua, Orica GreenEDGE, time trial, road race).
Elite women: Linda Villumsen (Auckland, Wiggle Honda, time trial, road race); Emily Collins (Auckland, Wiggle Honda, road race), Reta Trotman (Dunedin, Maxx Solar Stevens, road race); Jo Kiesanowski (Christchurch, Team TIBCO, road race).
Under-23 Men: James Oram (Bontrager Cycling, North Harbour, time trial, road race), Michael Vink (Christchurch, time trial); Dion Smith (Champion Systems, Auckland, road race); Alex Frame (Thuringer Energie, Christchurch, road race).
Junior women: Devon Hiley (Auckland, road race); Madison Campbell (Christchurch, road race).
- © Fairfax NZ News