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.