No rest for the wicked.
George Bennett is set to return from three grueling weeks at the Tour de France by competing in yet another major cycling race in the space of just seven days.
The Jumbo-Visma rider, who raced the Tour with a suspected broken rib after crashing on stage one, has been included in a seven-person New Zealand squad for the hastily reorganized UCI Road World Championships in Imola, Italy on September 24. -27. The team also includes two siblings.
Bennett will be supported in the men’s road race by fellow WorldTour professionals Patrick Bevin (CCC) and Dion Smith (Mitchelton-Scott), as well as Jumbo-Visma development rider Finn Fisher-Black.
Bevin and teenager Fisher-Black, who received a dispensation to compete in the elite ranks after the end of the Under-23 race, will compete in both the road race and the time trial.
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Bevin had the best result in New Zealand history in the men’s time trial last year, narrowly missing the podium for fourth.
Mitchelton-Scott’s Georgia Williams will team up with promising Team Paule Ka pair Niamh Fisher-Black and Mikayla Harvey in the women’s road race, with Williams and Harvey also on track for the time trial.
Mitchelton-Scott rider Sam Bewley was initially selected to support Bennett, but he was left out after breaking his wrist on the Tour, opening the door for Finn Fisher-Black, Niamh Fisher’s younger brother. Black.
The other rider unavailable for selection due to injury is Canyon SRAM rider Ella Harris, with the 42nd ranked rider in the world fracturing her femur in a serious crash last month.
Niamh Fisher-Black and Harvey are currently in action at the Giro Rosa in Italy. This race ends on September 19, one day before the end of the Tour.
“This is a difficult event under the current circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, the change of venue and the compressed racing season in Europe,” said Graeme Hunn, Cycling New Zealand selector.
“National teams must follow the strict UCI Covid-19 protocols that WorldTour teams apply in terms of team bubbles with minimal exposure to other bubbles and the general public.
“It’s made more difficult with riders coming from various professional teams to join the New Zealand team bubble.
“The runners have separate rooms, with Covid tests for runners and staff six and three days before the competition, as well as strict operational controls, face masks, sanitized rooms, team vehicles and everything else. ‘equipment and separate catering areas.’
Although this is the 12th time that Italy has hosted the World Championships, these have not been held in Imola for over 50 years despite being a frequent stop at the Giro d’Italia. The start and finish will be at the Enzo e Dino Ferrari motor racing circuit, which was a Formula 1 venue until 2006 and which returned once this year.
The road courses will be difficult with the men’s road race over 260 km with 5000 m of climbing, and the women over 144 km with 2750 m of climbing, on a circuit of 29 km. The time trial course covers 32 km of mostly flat terrain.