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Strong NZ cycling team for Paris Olympics

World Champs, Ellesse Andrews and Aaron Gate head the New Zealand Olympic cycling team
World Champion Ellesse Andrews is a real medal prospect in the Paris Olympics PHOTO: SW Pix

Led by two current world champions, a strong 16-rider track and road cycling team has been named for the Paris Olympic Games.


New Zealand Sportsman of the Year, Aaron Gate heads to his fourth Olympic Games, leading an impressive men’s track endurance quartet alongside World Tour rider Campbell Stewart, Tom Sexton and Keegan Hornblow.


They are currently ranked second in Team Pursuit and first in the two-rider madison while Gate is fourth in the Omnium on UCI Olympic rankings. Gate earned his rainbow stripes in the individual Points Race, which is the core discipline in the Olympic Omnium.


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"It is unfinished business after Tokyo and the disappointment there," said Gate who crashed as his team raced for the bronze medal in the team pursuit in Tokyo. 


"In terms of expectations, I am putting a lot on myself for this one. It is a surreal opportunity to get my fourth Olympics and so it is not one that I am going to take lightly. I will be going there with my best foot forward."


Ellesse Andrews is the current world champion in the keirin, and currently second on Olympic rankings and fourth in individual sprint. She joins Rebecca Petch and Shaane Fulton in a team sprint combination that is currently seventh on Olympic rankings and continuing to improve strongly.


The women’s endurance quartet comprises Bryony Botha, Ally Wollaston, Nicole Shields and Emily Shearman who are the top ranked women’s team pursuit, second on Olympic rankings in the two-rider madison and third in the omnium. Their performances have been outstanding this year, with a new national record in the team pursuit.


Sam Dakin is the sole male sprinter, coming off his best year, where he is ranked seventh on Olympic rankings in the keirin.


The four-strong road team are all young European-based World Tour professionals who have enjoyed an outstanding first half of 2024, comprising Niamh Fisher-Black (Team SD Worx), Kim Cadzow (EF Education), Laurence Pithie (Groupama-FDJ) and Corbin Strong (Israel-Premier Tech).


Fisher-Black, 23, from Nelson, has four professional wins and this year has won stages in the Tour de Suisse and Velenciana and was seventh on GC in the Vuelta Espana.


Cadzow, from Tauranga, has three wins in her short career. The 22-year-old year won the national championship time trial in 2024 and placed second in the road race. She also placed an outstanding sixth in the famed Liege-Bastogne-Liege monument and top-10 on GC in the Vuelta Espana.


Pithie, 21 from Christchurch, has turned heads this year on the WorldTour for his Groupama FDJ WorldTour team, with an early season win at the Cadel Evans Ocean Race, two podiums in Paris-Nice, and a stand-out seventh in the famed Paris-Roubaix, the monument race established last century.


Strong, 24 from Invercargill, is a former world champion on the track, who has already enjoyed two professional victories on the road and this year was second in a stage of Tour Downunder and Tour of Finisterre and fourth in the Cadel Evans Ocean race.


“We are excited with the group to represent us on the track and road at the Paris Olympics Games,” said Cycling New Zealand High Performance Director, Ryan Hollows.


“The women’s endurance track group has been developing splendidly since Tokyo and is probably the deepest in terms of talent that we have ever produced. Coach Paul Manning has allowed this group to take the lead on how they operate and they have formed a closely-knit and hard-working combination.


“The men’s endurance is a mix of world-proven talent led by Aaron Gate, alongside Campbell Stewart who won that remarkable silver medal in Tokyo. There was strong competition for places, with Tom Sexton and Keegan Hornblow joining with some real depth in reserve.


“The sprint group is led by Ellesse Andrews who is still young in terms of world sprinting, and she continues to improve every time she steps on the track. The women’s team sprint group are young in years and experience with a promising future, as has Sam Dakin who has his sights set on becoming New Zealand’s fastest sprinter.


“New Zealand is fortunate to have some superb young road riders who have been producing outstanding results on the WorldTour in Europe this year. With teams reduced to four riders in Paris, this could make for a very different race and arguably present New Zealand with a rare opportunity to make its presence felt.


“Overall we believe this is amongst our strongest track and road teams and accordingly the depth of talent has meant it has been a challenging job for our selectors. While we congratulate our selected riders, we also want to acknowledge the world-class talent that we just could not fit into our tight quotas.”


Track and road team:

Track, Women, Endurance: Bryony Botha (Auckland), Emily Shearman (Palmerston North), Nicole Shields (Clyde), Ally Wollaston (Cambridge).

Sprint: Ellesse Andrews (Christchurch), Shaane Fulton (Nelson), Rebecca Petch (Te Awamutu).

Male, Endurance: Aaron Gate (Auckland), Keegan Hornblow (Nelson), Tom Sexton (Invercargill), Campbell Stewart (Palmerston North).

Sprint: Sam Dakin (Auckland).

Road, Women: Kim Cadzow (Tauranga), Niamh Fisher-Black (Nelson).

Men: Laurence Pithie (Christchurch), Corbin Strong (Invercargill).

Reserves:

Female Track, Sprint: Olivia King.

Endurance: Sami Donnelly, Michaela Drummond.

Road: Ella Wyllie, Henrietta Christie.

Male Track, Endurance: George Jackson, Nic Kergozou.

Road: Finn Fisher-Black, George Bennett.



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