The first presidential cycling tour of iran

The Benchmark Homes Cycling team supported by Tineli Clothing, heads to Iran today to compete in the Presidential Cycling Tour of Iran. This represents a significant milestone for the team, as this is the first time riders have raced overseas under the Benchmark Homes brand. Five riders will be travelling to Iran to compete in the tour. The team, racing under the joint banner of Benchmark Homes and Tineli Clothing NZ, consists of Daniel Barry, Sam Horgan, Brendan Hart, Leon Hextall and Michael Naylor of the Benchmark Homes Cycling Team, based in Christchurch. The tour runs for five days and covers terrain in the regions surrounding the Iranian capital, Tehran. The course covers a total distance of 526km and includes two circuit races and a grueling mountain stage on the final day.

This final day is likely to be where the key moves of the tour are made, as there are two category one climbs, the second of which climbs to the finish at an elevation of 2600m above sea level. The early flat stages will be well suited to the aggressive riding style of Sam Horgan who has been making his presence felt in the Christchurch racing scene for most of this season. The international racing experience of Brendan Hart will be a key factor in the success of the team and his mountain climbing ability will prove vital on the final stage.

This tour will be the first taste of overseas racing for Horgan, Hextall and Naylor, who all race in the Under 23 age category. Each of these riders has had success in racing around New Zealand and this experience will give them a chance to improve even further. Daniel Barry, another Under 23 rider, has represented New Zealand in junior racing in Australia and in Spa, Belgium at the Junior World Cycling Championships in 2006. Daniel and Sam have been the in-form riders of the Benchmark Team in the 2008 season and they are expected to perform well in this event.

Travelling with the riders are Andrew Jamieson of BikeNZ, Tim Vincent of Tineli Clothing and Margo Rhys-Jones. Margo will be an asset to the team, bringing expertise in many areas. She is a qualified English teacher, a masseuse and a chef as well as a former international track and road cyclist. She has written for ProCycling Magazine and is well versed in many aspects of health and nutrition. Tim and Andrew have also had extensive international racing experience and they will be able to provide guidance and advice to the young riders in the team. Tim won the World Mountain Bike Marathon Champs in 2006 and has raced many successful seasons in Switzerland.

This team, although quite young and inexperienced, has the potential to perform very strongly at the Iran Tour. There is plenty to ride for with a total prize pool of over forty-thousand dollars up for grabs. The experience gained by the riders traveling will prove invaluable to the Benchmark Team later in the season

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