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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.

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