Talented duo flying flag for South

Reuben Thompson. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Reuben Thompson. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Young Queenstown road cyclist Reuben Thompson and Invercargill flyer Corbin Strong are part of a junior side looking to make an impact in the New Zealand Cycle Classic which starts today.

Finn Fisher-Black, Laurence Pithie and Thompson are all contracted to World Tour development teams in Europe this year.

They will be joined by track riders Strong and Regan Gough and esport rider Ollie Jones to form the Cycling New Zealand team.

The New Zealand Cycle Classic is a UCI level two-sanctioned event and the sole Oceania UCI stage road event in Australia or New Zealand.

All six Australian races usually run early in the year, including the Tour Downunder, but were cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Cycling New Zealand is thrilled that long-time organiser Jorge Sandoval has been able to present this important multi-stage race which has given so many of our riders the experience of a UCI-sanctioned race," Cycling New Zealand’s Graeme Hunn said.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for us to give our young talent a chance before some of them head to Europe to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in the sport.

‘‘It is exciting that all of them are excited at lining up for the New Zealand Cycle Classic and should provide some fireworks for the tour."

Fisher-Black (19), who is the junior pursuit world record-holder, is set to join the development team of Jumbo-Visma in Europe later this year, while double junior track world champion Pithie (18) and Thompson (19) will ride for the development team of Groupama-FDJ.

Jones was fourth in last month’s inaugural UCI Esport World Championship while Strong, the points race world champion, and Gough, the 2017 team pursuit world champion, are part of the Olympic track team.

Corbin Strong. PHOTO: James Jubb/Studio Jubb
Corbin Strong. PHOTO: James Jubb/Studio Jubb

Strong, who won the under-23 honours in the Tour of Southland, has also signed for Dutch development road team, SEG Racing Academy

The New Zealand Cycle Classic will begin with a team time trial today in Masterton.

The second stage tomorrow covers 158km with five climbs before returning to Masterton. Stage three features a multi-lap street circuit in Martinborough on Friday before the gut-busting stage four, which finishes with a 10km ascent of Admirals Hill near Gladstone on Saturday.

The final stage on Sunday moves to Wellington for a criterium centred on Lambton Quay.

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