Team Wheelworks Racing is made up of the following members:
Andy Hagan is the fashion icon and man of few words of Team Wheelworks. He has torn the legs off many of New Zealand’s best cyclists, quietly and without looking back. He has been featured in glamour photo shoots in New Zealand’s top road cycling magazine, and been seen looking far better than he should have after turning out excellent results in K2, the Tour of Southland, the Taupo Classic, and the Tour of Wellington.
Chris Kendall is a reformed mountain biker who turned to road biking after realising he had been a wannabe roadie the whole time. Chris followed the rules before he even knew there were rules. His obsessive behaviours are the reason for his year round pride stripes and evenly stocked back pockets, while his secret mountain bike habit means he holds the current Team Wheelworks record for most metres ascended per kilometre in a single ride. On the mountain bike he’s raced internationally and was sixth in the 2009 elite national championships. On the road he’s raced Tour of Southland, K2, the Tour of Wellington, and the Taupo Classic to name but a few.
Mr Coombes, as he likes to be known, was unavailable for comment at the time this article went to press. There have been various theories on his performance over the years: is it the diet, is it the quiet solitude, or is it his sonnet-wielding panache and love of fine sherry that drives him on? He has never responded to any media queries and even his team mates are uncertain. He is generally believed to be the grandson of a Taranaki farmer’s wife and Fausto Coppi. Whatever it is, the powers within have driven him on through the Tour of Wellington, the Tour of Taranaki, top results in the Gwaloop Challenge and the New Zealand University Games. Further glory awaits, though none of us are willing to speculate where.
Gary Stewart is the design guru and official team test driver for Team Wheelworks. He owns the coolest bike of all of us and is reputed to have ridden it several times. He is the self described cigar smoking old sponsor who turns up for the pies, pats everyone on the back and goes on to some other gig to then eat all their pies. So far he’s managed to score zero pies, he’s had to pay for his own pizza, and we drank his wine on the training camp.
Greg Taylor is the on the road tactician and motivational speaker for Team Wheelworks. Past tactics include leaving his pro team in Switzerland, selling his race bike, and moving to the UK to drink beer and chase girls. Luckily for the girls, he can’t run as fast as he can ride. Greg represented NZ at junior, under 23 and senior ranks and first retired from the NZ peloton in 2001 at the tender age of 20. He announced his third comeback to world cycling by taking line honours in the Kevin Smith memorial race in Otaki.
Janine Copp, the team Doctor with a proclivity for pink kit, alleviates the testosterone imbalance of Team Wheelworks. A New Zealand horse riding representative, Janine moved to a Wellington apartment in 2009 and decided to ride something that might fit a little better in the spare room. In her short time in cycling she has already achieved top level results in the elite ranks in the National Points Series and the various Tours around NZ. The only 30 year old ever to be selected for the New Zealand under 23 training squad, Janine’s youthful good looks belie her actual age.
Kirsten Price is the original cycling widow and other member of the Team Wheelworks Racing women’s team. A former competitive rower, Kirsten first got into cycling to escape the exercise free world of the Beehive and because there’s no rowing course between work and Wheelworks International HQ. Kirsten has raced at club and national events in New Zealand including Taupo-Napier and K2 and is the reigning Eddy Merckx of 50 km fun rides.
Mike Naylor is the sports science and performance expert for Team Wheelworks. He is at the forefront of the science of negligible gains in cycling performance, and the use of quality frozen dairy products for improving athletic performance and speeding recovery. He has taken his theories to elite cycle races in Asia, Europe, and here in New Zealand. His theories have had proven results in the Tour of Vineyards, the Grape Ride, Le Race, podium places the under 23 National Mountainbike XC and Hillclimb Championships, and two time winner of the prestigious Glenhope to Murchison road race back when he was a sprinter. After crashing too many times in the 2010 Tour of Wellington, next year Mike is planning to spend less time in the Ambulance having his dressings changed and more time scientifically testing which flavour ice cream has the greatest effect on performance.
Paul O’Connell is the Team Wheelworks Communications Director and Photographer. Paul’s palmares include several first places in solo races around the Kawerau BMX track in 1986, a number of top three finishes on the Sunday World Championships, an accidental leadout from Pete Latham (which Latham won), and once beating Andy Hagan up a hill while Andy had the flu. Paul was last seen calling out his heart rate and yelling “are you guys kidding” as the boys disappeared up another hill on a Tuesday hammer session. If found, please return to Wheelworks International HQ.
Tristan Thomas is a Canadian who claims to have been a glider instructor pilot and bike shop employee in the past. We’re certain this is a convenient cover story, and that his real heritage is as the Canadian Quartermaster of the Research and Development Division of the Canadian Secret Service. Upon moving to New Zealand he moved away from espionage to the fine art of building the best bike wheels money can buy. Not only can he build the prettiest, fastest wheels you’ve ever ridden he’s also a past master at turning them quickly and has recently graduated to racing scratch. In his spare time he is the Team Wheelworks Mechanic, Directeur Sportif, Soigneur, Chef, Driver, Corporate Affairs Liaison and R&D Division Head.