The top three riders from last year's Bev May Tour are all back for the event this weekend and should be hard pressed to beat to the podium.
There are 26 riders entered in the A grade for the two-day race in Morrinsville, with current champion Georgia Williams, from Auckland, in line to defend her title.
The youngster recently signed with Italian professional team Be Pink and is set to spend seven months with the Milan-based outfit.
She is coming off some strong performances at last weekend's national track championships in Invercargill, where she secured silver medals in the elite 3000m individual pursuit and the 20km points race, as well as placing seventh in the 10km scratch race.
Williams took out the New Zealand elite criterium national championships in December, before gaining third place in the elite 25km time trial and second in the same time as the winner in the elite road race at the national road championships last month.
Fellow Aucklander Emma Crum, who finished seventh in the same time as Williams at the national championships, and was third at last year's Bev May event, will prove tough competition.
She is set to defend her title at Hamilton's REV Classic in a fortnight before next month joining her new Spanish team, Lointek.
Hamilton's Pip Sutton last year finished second and she is back to try and do one better.
Stage one gets under way with a 12km time trial this morning, with the second stage an 85km road race this afternoon.
Tomorrow morning opens with the 70km stage three road race, before the afternoon's criterium - which is 40 minutes plus three laps of the 1.2km circuit - rounds out the competition.
The event is named after Bev May, who began her cycling career in 1958 with a special licence to race with the men.
May raced in the first elite women's national championships in the late 1970s, where she placed second over 22km.
In 1988 a serious accident and shoulder injury prevented her from competing again, but such was her love of the sport that she continued with event management. She has been secretary of the Morrinsville Wheelers Cycling Club for the past 53 years, as well as undertaking coaching.
Last year May was made a life member of BikeNZ.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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