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Rio cycling hopefuls head overseas

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/05/2016

The battle for spots in the New Zealand cycling team for the Rio Olympics will continue on three continents in the coming weeks.

A total of 21 track cyclists, including the four sprinters already selected for Rio - Natasha Hansen, Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins - have been named to travel overseas for competition and training from this weekend.

The seven endurance men, seven endurance women and seven sprinters will be split between Australia, the United States and Europe.

The Olympic cycling line-up will be finalised in the first week of July, with the road selections decided before the track contingent is completed.

The first group to leave is the men's endurance squad which includes the five riders who competed at this year's world championships - Aaron Gate and Alex Frame, who are in Europe with their professional teams, and Piet Bulling, Nick Kergozou and Dylan Kennett.

They are joined by Regan Gough, part of the 2014 world championship-winning team, and 2008 double Olympic medallist Hayden Roulston.

The group will form a New Zealand team to compete in the Tour of Ireland starting in 10 days.

They will then head for a training block in Mallorca before moving to their regular European base in Belgium for a mixture of road and track training.

Joining the Rio-bound sprint quartet to be based in Cottbus, Germany, will be rising star Zac Williams.

London medallist Simon van Velthooven will head for racing in United States and 2014 world championship medallist Matt Archibald will compete in the International Track Series in Melbourne. Both will be considered for further racing in Europe.

The experienced women's endurance quartet of Rushlee Buchannan, Lauren Ellis, Jaime Nielsen and Georgia Williams will be joined by the young trio of Holly Edmondston, Alysha Keith and Racquel Sheath.

That group will head to the United States for training and racing before five riders are selected to travel to Belgium.

Travelling riders:

Sprint - Natasha Hansen, Matt Archibald, Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell, Simon van Velthooven, Sam Webster, Zac Williams;

Female endurance - Rushlee Buchanan, Holly Edmondston, Lauren Ellis, Alysha Keith, Jaime Nielsen, Racquel Sheath, Georgia Williams;

Male endurance - Pieter Bulling, Alex Frame, Aaron Gate, Regan Gough, Dylan Kennett, Nick Kergozou, Hayden Roulston.

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