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Monday, February 27, 2012

NZ CUP # 4 Napier

The final NZ Nationals show down for the year.

Napiers track was a bit different to the others, mainly because it wasn’t as naturally selective. The main climb was very steep but apart from that it was a fast course without any real technical elements. This meant it was going to be a tough race as everyone would be a lot closer and the time differences at the finish were likely to be pretty small. We normally expect dry and dusty conditions in Napier but with a fair bit of rain in the week prior, conditions were almost perfect with plenty of grip.

For the first few laps it was a very tight race, with Mikey, Carl and myself riding off the front. I don’t think any of us had enough of an edge to go for the long haul and so it became quite a tactical battle with yo-yoing of the pace for nearly half of the race. At times we were strung out as someone put in an attack and then the next minute back to a steady cruise waiting for the next move to come. We haven’t had such a close race all year so it was very exciting and testing in different ways to previous encounters.

With three laps completed and another three to come I decided I had to back myself and go for the win. We hit the climb and I was second wheel behind Mikey. The steepest part came at the beginning and it eased off after about halfway. I waited until the gradient lessened a bit and then banged the chain into the big ring and went for it. It proved to be the decisive move and I was able to open up a gap & lead over the top. I really went for it and by the end of the lap had about 30secs, which I knew would be enough on this course. Keeping the gas on for the penultimate lap increased the lead a bit more and from there I only had to make it over the climb to take the win.

With the first place in Napier I also took out the overall title for the NZ Cup, with two Firsts and a Second proving to be the most consistent for the series.

Monday, February 20, 2012

NZ CUP # 3 Wellington.

It’s been couple of years since I last raced at Mount Vic so it was good to be back. It is always a tough venue with a lot of climbing and some good single trail sections that keep riders on the edge due to their often rooty and narrow nature. Because the weather had been so dry in the preceding days it was also quite dusty in places. The course was put together really well. A couple of long several minute climbs early on in the lap tested the legs and there was also a super steep Mount Vic trade mark pinch climb thrown in as well. I enjoyed it and felt I could do well and with the added incentive of my first outing in the National Champs jersey I was looking to have a good

The pace wasn’t very fast early on and everyone was still pretty much together for the most of the first lap. Near the top of the second climb I moved to the front to drive the pace a bit and managed to get a gap going into the next downhill section. I hadn’t intended on going so early but decided to make the most of the opportunity and keep up the momentum. After the first lap I had a small 10sec advantage. It is always good when you can disappear and stay out of site of the chasing riders and I worked hard to increase my lead. I wasn’t able to clear out big time but by the middle of the race things had settled down and I had a decent buffer. Six laps out in front was hard going though and I was starting to tire as we moved into the last stages of the race. I lost a bit of time to Mikey who was chasing hard in second place near the end but was reasonably safe and held him off by just over 20seconds.This was a pretty satisfying result and I will be working hard to have a good one at the final round of the NZ Cup this weekend in Napier.