Home country New Zealand and last year's host Russia will both field capacity squads of 16 with Australia confirming a 14-strong team including four defending junior world champions for next month’s UCI Juniors World Cycling Championships in Invercargill.
Cycling powerhouses such as France, Belgium, Great Britain, Russia and Australia will send teams of varying sizes to the championships to be held at the Stadium Southland Velodrome on August 22-26.
Cycling Southland CEO Nick Jeffrey said they are pleased with the response from the world’s major cycling nations and entries were to expectations.
“Obviously it is a big venture for these countries to head to the southern hemisphere and challenging in an Olympic year when their main focus is on London,” he said.
“We are now receiving the individual entries and countries like Russia and Belarus are each sending big teams.
“One of the attractions is that the track here at the Stadium Southland Velodrome is proven as one of the fastest in the world in the right conditions.
“This is only the second time that the championships have ever been to New Zealand. With the attention on the Olympics right now, these championships present a unique opportunity for the sporting public and cycling fans to see tomorrow’s stars today. I am sure that a significant number of them will compete at the Rio Olympics and become cycling stars in the future.”
BikeNZ High Performance director Mark Elliott said the international visitors can expect to be met by a staunch New Zealand challenge from the 16-strong team, in a familiar environment and in front of a vocal Kiwi crowd.
“Doing things in an environment that is not foreign to you is always an advantage. We find that a lot of the international teams really struggle to travel to the other side of the world. It’s something that Kiwis and Australians don’t even think twice about but the rest of the world doesn’t seem to cope that well coming the other way,” said Elliott.
“What we have also been able to do with the event being held in New Zealand is give some young kids the chance to be in the Junior World’s environment, which if it were on the other side of the world we may not have been able to afford to do. They will then be able to take that experience into next year and continue to raise the bar at the junior level.”
Jeffrey said with the help of the sport’s ruling body, they are making a final push before entries close this month.
Confirmed countries are: Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Belgium, Argentina, Great Britain, Belarus, New Zealand, France, Russia, Armenia, India, Japan, Switzerland, USA, Netherlands.
Countries who have indicated an interest but still to confirm include Korea, Chinese Taipei, Lithuania, Hong Kong, China, Italy and Germany.
For more information: www.juniorworlds2012.com