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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Oceania Champs

Having a big race like the Oceanias on home tracks doesn’t happen too often so I was pretty excited about this one and had been looking forward to it for a long time. In preparation I had ridden countless laps of the course so knew it very well. It was a deceptively hard track to race on because although it didn’t have a lot of sustained climbing, it was packed with small rises and pinches that wore the legs down and offered little respite. Technically it was very easy with the exception of the specially built rock garden descent which claimed a few victims both in the lead up to the race and during. With the home advantage I was looking to perform well and keen to add the U23 Oceania title to the NZ Champs win earlier in the summer.

The race went perfectly. I managed to take the lead pretty much from the gun and was able to set the pace up the first climb, Nursery hill. Tom Bradshaw took the lead briefly on the next little climb but I made sure I was back in front going into the first single trail descent. It took a while to shake the chasers but by about halfway through the first lap I had forced open a slight gap. It took a couple of laps to get a safer margin with Australian Cameron Ivory chasing hard. But by gaining a handful of seconds here and there and then pushing out a strong final lap I eventually finished with a winning margin of just under 2mins.

The crowd out supporting the race was huge by NZ standards and the atmosphere in the hotspots up Nursery hill and down the rock garden was awesome. This will definitely go down as one of my favourite races and it was great to be able to deliver the win at home in Rotorua.

So it was a pretty good weekend and helped cap what has probably been my most successful summer of racing in NZ. Thanks to everyone who has helped me out this year and all the support along the way. It is now time for a short break and then I will set my sights on my next overseas campaign.

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