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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NZ National Championships

I was very keen to defend my National title this year and even more so with the championships being held on home turf in Rotorua. After a great NZ Cup series I was confident and looking forward to a good battle. Anton Cooper was always going to be the favourite but I felt that with my local knowledge things could be pretty close...
Photo: Debbie Retief.
From the gun things went well, taking the holeshot and then controlling things up the first climb of Nursery hill. I worked hard through the first single trail section and right from early on established a lead with Anton. Setting the pace seemed like the right thing to do, I was feeling good and with the super dusty conditions visibility was a lot better in front. Also I know the tracks so well and wanted to use this to my advantage to try and test Anton as much as possible.
Several times through the race I opened up slight gaps with little surges and attacks but was never able to get a decisive advantage. I pushed super hard and ended up leading virtually the whole time. A couple of times I eased off slightly to see what would happen but Anton was reluctant to take the front preferring to stick tight to my wheel. As the laps ticked down I tried harder and more frequently to break him but couldn’t manage it.

Photo: Alan Ofsoski (www.fotoengineers.com)
So it came down to the last lap, I had nothing to lose and gave it everything on the final climb up nursery hill. I think we were both on the limit but again I couldn’t shake him. The run in to the finish was predominantly single trail descending back down to the event village with no chance to overtake. The last real passing opportunity was a false flat road section and this was where the race was lost for me. Unable to get any real gap the whole race it came down to a sprint to get into the single trail first which I lost. All I could do was hope for a mistake from Anton down the tricky descent to the short finish straight. Almost unbelievably the mistake came on one of the final dusty corners. Anton crashed but fell right in my path and it was just too narrow to get round him. He remounted super quickly and from there I couldn’t really do anything to contest the win. We popped out onto the finishing straight and I sprinted as hard as I could but couldn’t get round coming in second by the narrowest of margins.
Photo: Wayne Jones Nevrilk (www.nevrilk.com)

It is always gutting to come second especially when coming so close to the win but I have to be happy with how I rode. I gave it everything I had it just wasn’t enough to take the no 1 spot in the end. The home crowd support was amazing and this race is definitely the best I have ever been a part of in New Zealand.
Photo: Wayne Jones Nevrilk (www.nevrilk.com/)
Thanks to everyone who came out and supported us during the race as well as NZXC Racing and our sponsors and a big thank you to Bike Culture and Wide Open Distributors for lending me a set of Enve Carbon wheels for the race.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I hadn’t raced in Hunua for a long time so was looking forward to a fresh venue. The course profile wasn’t overly challenging with little in the way of sustained climbing but the often narrow single trail weaving through native bush proved to be pretty tough to ride at race pace. The tight nature of the majority of the track made it hard to really put the power down and attack the course. Any open sections provided a bit of relief from the on your breaks stop start style of riding required and during the race I did my best to really hit these sections hard to keep up the overall pace.

The start was dodgy with a slight downhill sprint off the line straight into a tight right hander on recently cut dry grass. It was pretty loose coming in at full gas from the gun but I managed to navigate it safely and from there sat in 4th place round the start loop moving up into second wheel into the first single trail section.

Over the first lap Anton Cooper and I set the pace and we opened up a slight lead halfway through. I ended up riding in the lead over the next few laps working hard to build on the gap to the chasing group and trying to keep Anton in check in the single trail.

By halfway through the six lap race we had a pretty safe advantage over everyone else and it was clear it was going to be just the two of us battling for the win. During the 4th lap Anton attacked and even though I had been expecting it I was caught a little unprepared and was immediately on the back foot and struggling to close the gap. I seemed to be able to match him on the open grass parts but once back in the single track he clearly had the advantage and quickly built an unassailable lead. I rode hard chasing but eventually finished up 1min 38seconds behind in second place.

So although a second for the weekend it was still a successful race with the points earned enabling me to take the overall National Cup win for 2013. It was also a good last test before the National Championships this weekend in Rotorua. I have been training well including countless laps of the course and with the form looking good things are on track for a good day so I am pretty excited about the weekend and can’t wait to race.

Photos: Simon Watts/bwp.co.nz/bikeNZ © Simon Watts/bwp.co.nz/BikeNZ.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013



The team had a really enjoyable few days down in Wellington at the latest NZ Cup. With the New Zealand round of the IRB sevens in town accommodation was fully booked but we were lucky enough to enjoy the hospitality of Tom Bradshaws family for the weekend. The dinners were amazing and there was plenty of friendly banter amongst everyone plus some good sports viewing with the Sevens and then the World Cyclocross champs on live stream on Sunday morning.
Wellingtons MT Vic courses are always hard and this weekend’s race was no exception.  Tough climbs followed by steep, rooty, dusty descents that really test riders fitness and skills. Everything was super dry and it was easy to get out of shape when overstepping the limits. A blazing hot sun brought the temperatures right up as well with the heat getting the better of many riders.
I had a great day with everything going well for me during the race and managed to take a good win ahead of fellow Rotorua riders Sam Shaw in 2nd and team mate Carl Jones in 3rd.
Being in the team environment is a lot of fun and with the new bike working well and the form coming along nicely I am looking forward to the final round of the NZ Cup in Auckland next weekend and then Nationals at home in Rotorua the following week.