18 Aug 2017

Hamish Bond to ride for New Zealand at World Champs

12:42 pm on 18 August 2017

One of New Zealand most successful rowers, Hamish Bond will represent New Zealand in cycling next month.

Hamish Bond rides to victory in the inaugural Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge.

Hamish Bond rides to victory in the inaugural Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge. Photo: Icon Sport

The double Olympic champion and 8 time world champion has been named in the New Zealand Cycling team for next month's World Road Championships in Norway.

Bond, who has devoted his time to his bike since Rio, will compete in the men's time trial.

The 13-strong New Zealand team is headed by Nelson's George Bennett, who will also compete in the individual time trial.

The team includes rising stars Patrick Bevin and Dion Smith, who both made their debuts in the Tour de France this year. The women's team is headed by 2015 world time trial champion Linda Villumsen and fellow Rio track Olympian Jaime Nielsen, who recently set the women's world record in the one-hour time trial at sea-level.

Bennett, who starts in his fourth Vuelta á Espana this weekend for his Lotto NL-Jumbo World Tour team, will only contest the individual time trial at the world championships.

The climbing star is buoyed by the unique nature of the elite men's time trial course in Norway. Normally the domain of the power riders over a 50km mainly flat course, this year it is the shortest at 31km but with a brutal final 3.4km climb with a gradient of around nine percent.

Joining him in the time trial is Bond, who moved his focus from rowing to cycling after Rio, finishing runner-up to Jack Bauer in the time trial at the national championships before training and racing in UK with a time trial specific coaching group.

Bevin, 26, the 2016 national time trial champion, has enjoyed an outstanding season for his Cannondale-Drapac World Tour team, highlighted when he was pipped for the win by superstar Philippe Gilbert in stage two of the Tour de France.

Smith, 24, third at the national road championships, was left without a pro team in January, before receiving a late call to join pro continental team, Wanty-Group Gobert, based in Belgium. There he has prospered competing, including a debut at the Tour de France. Smith finished inside the top-20 in the Youth Classification and figured in the bunch sprint with the same time as the winners in three stages.

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Photo: Supplied

They are joined in the road race by 2014 Commonwealth Games medallist Jack Bauer, who produced a powerful performance for the crack Quick Step-Floors team in the Tour de France, a key figure in the train that set up sprinter Marcel Kittel for five stage wins.

"It is a very powerful New Zealand team and there was a lot of competition especially for the men's road race where we only had three quota spots," said Cycling New Zealand Chief Executive, Andrew Matheson.

"There are several riders who are competing in the Vuelta á Espana but we had to select the team now, and just could not predict how they would come out of three weeks of very tough racing.

"But all three riders we have selected for the road race were outstanding in the Tour de France. It is probably the strongest competition we have ever had to select the men's road race team.

"George Bennett signalled to us that he was keen to compete in the time trial because of the unique nature of this course which should suit him.

"We have been so impressed with the performances and the attitude from Hamish in his switch to cycling. It is very clear to us why he has achieved so much because has left no stone unturned in his preparation including a lot of work on the course."

In the women, Villumsen, who will ride the road race and the time trial, returned to the Women's World Tour following a break after the Rio Olympics, with some eye-catching efforts for her Team VeloCONCEPT.

She is joined in the road race by Rio Olympian on the track, Georgia Williams, 23, who has been a revelation for the Orica-Scott World Tour team this year, earning plaudits from team bosses.

Her track teammate in Rio, Nielsen gets her chance with Villumsen in the time trial, which does not include the massive climb for the women's race.

"We are delighted that Linda has returned to the top of the women's tour, and Georgia has really prospered with her opportunity with Orica-Scott, who are one of the powerhouse women's teams," said Mr Matheson.

"Jaime has enjoyed her opportunity to test herself in time trial and her recent effort with the one-hour on the track, gives an idea of her tremendous strength and stamina."

Cyclist Linda Villumsen celebrates gold.

Cyclist Linda Villumsen celebrates gold. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Rio Olympian and national criterium champion Regan Gough, who rides for the An Post Chain Reaction continental team in Europe, heads the elite under 23 contingent, and will compete in both the road race and time trial.

The two other boys selected for the under 23 road race, Sam Dobbs and Luke Mudgway have been given the opportunity to gain the experience of a major event in what will be a very demanding race.

Two members of Cycling New Zealand's Performance Hub, Oscar Elworthy and Ben Hamilton, have been selected for the junior men's team to ride both the road race and time trial.

The team is:

Elite Men, road race: Jack Bauer (Quick Step-Floors, Takaka), Patrick Bevin (Cannondale-Drapac, Taupo), Dion Smith (Wanty Group Gobert, Auckland). Reserves: Sam Bewley (Orica-Scott, Rotorua), Aaron Gate (Aqua Blue Sport, Auckland).

Time Trial: George Bennett (Lotto NL-Jumbo, Nelson), Hamish Bond (Cambridge). Reserve: Bevin

Elite Women, Road Race: Linda Villumsen (Team VeloCONCEPT, Christchurch), Georgia Williams (Orica-Scott, Auckland).

Time Trial: Villumsen, Jaime Nielsen (Cambridge).

U23 Men, Road Race: Regan Gough (An Post-Chain Reaction, Hawkes Bay), Sam Dobbs (Attaque Team Gusto, Cambridge), Luke Mudgway (RTS Monton Racing, Hawkes Bay).

Time Trial: Gough

Junior Men, Road race and time trial: Oscar Elworthy (Barfoot & Thompson Cycling New Zealand Performance Hub, Auckland), Ben Hamilton (Barfoot & Thompson Cycling New Zealand Performance Hub, Auckland).