The first really big race of the year and with the added incentive of being a UCI Cat 2 race the second round of the New Zealand National series was always going to be an interesting one. The track was fairly typical for Napier. Twisty and fairly tight single track sections and a very dry almost sandy trail surface. It was fast and a lot of it was flat but the main climb more than made up for the rest, rearing almost straight uphill and its steepness and length definitely took its toll as the race wore on.
After a quick start the field kept pretty much together until the climb. About halfway up I moved into second position and as I was unsure of how strong everyone else was, decided to stay there for a while as the track undulated along the top of the hill for about a km. Feeling good I slid up into the lead coming up out of one of the dips and then decided to take advantage of the opportunity pushing the pace down the descent. By the bottom I had a nice lead and from there I kept on the gas opening up a 16 second gap at the end of the first lap.
The track was quite bumpy with a lot of tree roots and I felt that my Santacruz Blur XC gave me a big advantage as the majority of the riders were on hard tails. Particularly on the flatter sections of the track I could maintain a lot more momentum and was able to stay pedalling where in some cases it was almost physically impossible for a hard tail rider to be doing the same. As the race went on I was able to extend my lead and by the end of the six laps I had a comfortable two minute advantage over second place. I am pretty satisfied with how things went and am happy to take the win as well as the valuable UCI points that come with it.