New EVO Pro squad off to impressive start in New Zealand

Some or all of the five Irish riders on new team will compete in upcoming Mallorca Challenge

Shane Archbold and Aaron Gate. Both are taking part in  the five-day New Zealand Cycle Classic with the  EVO Pro team

Shane Archbold and Aaron Gate. Both are taking part in the five-day New Zealand Cycle Classic with the EVO Pro team

 

Replacing Aqua Blue Sport as Ireland’s only registered UCI cycling team, the new EVO Pro squad has had a very impressive start in the Southern Hemisphere. Last weekend Luke Mudgway won the Gravel and Tar Classic in his home country of New Zealand, with his Australian team-mate Cyrus Monk coming third.

The momentum continued on Wednesday when another Kiwi with the team, Aaron Gate, was first to the line on day one of the five-day New Zealand Cycle Classic. He successfully defended his overall lead when he was tenth on Thursday’s second stage.

Team-mate Shane Archbold went agonisingly close to netting another victory for the team when he placed second there, finishing just millimetres behind Swiss rider Stefan Bissegger.

Like Gate, Archbold previously raced with Irish squads Aqua Blue Sport plus the An Post Chainreaction team.

The EVO Pro team was set up in recent months, and features five Irish riders. These are Mark Downey, Daire Feeley, Aaron Kearney, Cormac McGeough and Matthew Teggart. While those are yet to compete with the squad this year, Mudgway, Gate and Archbold have got things off to a strong start and helped the team clock up morale-boosting success.

Some or all of the Irish riders will compete in the upcoming Mallorca Challenge, which begins next Thursday with the Trofeo Ses Salines. The event is a collection of four one-day races, enabling riders to drop in and out rather than having to compete each day.

The team is racing at the Continental level this year, one step below that of the now-dissolved Aqua Blue Sport. However, it has got big hopes and is aiming for bigger backing next season plus a Pro Continental licence.

Double stage winner

Also due to race in Mallorca is Dan Martin. Now 32 years of age, the double Tour de France stage winner knows that this season is likely make or break time for his goal of taking a top three finish – or perhaps even overall victory – in the Tour de France. He remains with the UAE Team Emirates squad, and will have its full backing in the Tour in July.

Meanwhile, fellow Irish pro Sam Bennett is due to start his own 2019 season in the Vuelta a San Juan Internacional. This gets under way on Sunday with a mainly flat 159.1km race to Pocito; the profile bodes well for a bunch sprint, which in turn will suit Bennett. However, Bora-hansgrohe teammate Peter Sagan is also due to take part, and the former world champion may be given priority by the team.

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