NZ National Team for Gravel and Tar

BY COLLEEN SHELDON, VOLUNTEER JOURNALIST

A strong NZ National team has been announced for the UCI 1.2 Gravel and Tar elite race being held in Palmerston North on Saturday, 27 January.

For the first time, Cycling New Zealand has entered a five-strong team of James Oram, Luke Mudgway, Taylor Gunman, Hayden McCormick and Joel Yates to take on the challenge.

Former Palmerston North Boys High School students, Yates and Mudgway, aged 20 and 21 respectively, have youth on their side and have concentrated on speed and endurance in the 2017 year.

In November, Yates won the Abel Tasman Cycle Challenge in a daring solo attack. This year, he will be riding for USA-based U25 development team, Gateway Harley Davidson Trek.

Mudgway, a former World Junior Track Champion in the Madison event, who also represented NZ last October at the World Road Cycling Championships in Norway, will spend this year riding for Canadian Continental Team, H & R Block.

Twenty-six-year-old Taylor Gunman, from Auckland, is a former winner of the Oceania Road Championships and the NZ Cycle Classic. He will spend his 2018 season riding for Madison Genesis, a well-established and top-level UK-based team.

National team stalwarts Oram and McCormick are a hard-working pair, their results in the recent NZ National Champs road race suggest a successful 2018.  

The former Waikato rider, McCormick, came 2nd at the Napier event, with his team-mate Oram placing 5th. In the Individual Time Trial event, they placed 6th and 7th respectively.

McCormick, who is riding in his third season for UK-based One-Pro Cycling was an integral part of his team last year, showing real leadership qualities and finishing 2nd at the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic. The 24-year-old backed it up with a strong showing at the Velothon Wales where he finished 9th.

Fellow rider Oram is also in his third season at One-Pro. He enjoyed a successful 2017 season with the highlight being his impressive stage victory at Kriezh Breizh Elites in France last July.

He will be one to watch having accumulated ten UCI top 10’s through last season.

Cycling New Zealand’s High Performance Athlete Development Lead, Graeme Hunn said the team’s strategy for Gravel and Tar was to stay in the race and be engaged and communicating the whole way.

“This event has many variables. The riders will have to lead the way and make critical decisions during the race to give ourselves the best opportunity at the end of the race.”

Hunn said the race was an excellent opportunity for riders to prepare for their international seasons and brought the best cyclists from Oceania together to test themselves.

“Events at this level are important. A bigger calendar across the season is vital to us improving our position globally. The key is (this race is) iconic, almost an adventure,” he said.

“There’s a story associated with every performance whether it’s a podium or at the back of the field”.

For more information, contact organiser Stephen Stannard, s.stannard@massey.ac.nz or phone: 0226848718 or 021809597.

Event website:  www.gravelandtar.com

Steve Stannard