Napier hit-out for Harvey, Harris

Ella Harris
Ella Harris
Two of Otago's and New Zealand's most exciting young cycling stars will be on show at the elite and under-23 Road National Championships in Napier this weekend.

But do not expect Dunedin's Ella Harris and Wanaka's Mikayla Harvey to be firing on all cylinders.

That is because the pair of 20-year-olds are heading to Europe this year to debut as professionals in the UCI Women's World Tour.

There are four Kiwi females currently lining up for UCI Women's professional teams in 2019 at the top echelon of the sport in Europe.

Harris and Harvey join Georgia Williams (Mitchelton-Scott) and Sharlotte Lucas (Team TIBCO).

Mikayla Harvey
Mikayla Harvey
While both Harris and Harvey are keen for good showings at the national championships, their focus is on the bigger challenge ahead.

Harvey will compete for the Swiss-based Cervelo-Bigla Pro Cycling, while Harris will ride for German-registered team Canyon SRAM, which boasts multi world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and the world No9
Katarzyna Niewiadoma.

''I missed out on nationals in 2018 after a crash which required surgery, so I was initially targeting it as redemption,'' Harris said.

''Things have changed and instead of this being the key race, it is the first race in a long and hard season.

''That said, it is a course that suits. It is a race of attrition, so I would like a good result.''

Harvey will ride without pressure in Napier as well.

''In the past the nationals and Oceanias have been hugely important but now my season is 10 months long and this is the start.''

Harvey suffered an elbow injury in a training crash recently, which has restricted her to several weeks on the indoor trainer.

''In some ways it is a blessing, because it has made me take stock of things and focus on building a really good base. Nationals is a bit of an unknown at this stage.''

Harvey progressed to US-based Team Illuminate with some eye-catching performances last year, including second in the youth classification at the Santos Women's Tour and sixth best young rider at the Tour of California.

Two top-10 efforts in this division when the team ventured to Europe at Giro Toscana and the Ardeche led to selection to the New Zealand team for the world championships and also caught the eye of the Cervelo-Bigla manager.

Harris' opportunity came in the sport's equivalent of Cycling's Got Talent. She entered a global search through the Zwift Academy, with a series of gruelling tests on the ERG trainer which eventually reduced the 4500 entries down to one ultimate winner.

Harvey will compete in the time trial, and both will compete in the road race at the national championships.

The championships begin on Friday.

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