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Kiwi team to compete in Tour de France

Published: 10:03AM Sunday February 12, 2012 Source: Fairfax

  • Pure Black Racing's Roman van Uden

Pure Black Racing have a roster of riders, a schedule and are back in business.

It looked as if the hopes of New Zealand being able to have a team at the Tour de France in the next few years were over before Christmas when Pure Black Racing announced it would be unlikely they'd be able to continue, but after reaching an agreement with Bike NZ and a continuation of a sponsorship deal with Avanti Bikes, they'll be able to compete again this year, albeit in a scaled-down way.

The riders who are returning this year are Roman van Uden, Shem Rodger, Louis Crosby, James McCoy, Dan Barry, Taylor Gunman, Michael Torckler and James Williamson, while Deon Smith has moved up from the development team and Joe Cooper joins the squad as the only new member.

The team will leave for Asia later this week, with their first race being the prestigious Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia. They will spend three months racing in Asia, then there are plans to go to Europe and possibly North America before ending the year in Australia.

The team's business director, Greg Cross, says that Pure Black Racing's original goal that they'd one day be competing in the best races in the world is still alive.

"When you launch something with a vision, you have to continue with that vision," Cross said.

"Nothing in life is easy and the path from point A to point B is seldom what you expect it to be.

"There will always be bumps along the road. We've always been clear from the outset that we'd have to take the emerging talent we have and develop that into riders who are capable of competing at the highest level.

"We also knew that we'd have to build a business organisation and sponsorship base to support our ambitions.

"Last year, if you look at those two parts of the equation, the team had the opportunity to succeed in North America and they did just that.

"The tough part last year was that the world economy wasn't doing well and there were a lot of events in New Zealand that sucked up a lot of money.

"From our point of view, we continue to hold the original vision, but we also have to deal with the realities and practicalities of the environment which we all live in these days."

Once the team head off to Asia, Cross will look at funding to enable the team to be based in Europe for most of 2013. While road cycling is growing in Asia, for the team to get to the Tour de France, their only chance of making this a reality is if they're based in Europe.