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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 Oceania Championships

The Oceania Championships are always a big event. As well as offering up the classic NZ VS Aussie rivalry, its status as a Continental Championships provides valuable UCI ranking points. Alternating venues with Australia every year this year’s Champs where held inland from Christchurch at Mt Hutt.
Having never raced there before I was eager to get to grips with the new course which proved to be a good one. The first half of the track in particular was very popular with the riders, featuring a long switch back climb with some awkward off camber sections that were quite a handful when ridden at race pace. On reaching the top of the climb the track then plunged back downhill with several steep chutes into tight corners, it was technical and a lot of fun to ride but because of its steepness always seemed to finish way too soon. The second half of the track began with a steep climb made harder with an awkward rock garden section halfway up followed by a long swooping flowy downhill. From there it was a big false flat grinding climb all the way back to the start.
In practice leading into the race the course had been quite greasy and slippery. In the first half of the track in particular several sections were almost unrideable and with Cyclone Lusi set to hit sometime around race day we were getting prepared for a mud fest.
Thankfully the weather held off with Lusi proving to be a no show and we had perfect conditions on race day.
Anton kicked off the race at a fast pace with the rest of the field chasing hard. I was able to stay in touch in second position for most of the first climb. But he was flying and a combination of his speed and a couple of mistakes saw me dropped but still pushing to stay in touch. By the end of the lap however he was well gone and Dan McConnell had bridged back to me bringing Carl with him. Dan showed his class riding away from Carl and I, eventually running Anton down and then carrying on to a comfortable win. For most of the first race I held a very slim lead over Carl and had to battle very hard to hold him off. I was able to ride good consistent laps and with the race being a bit longer than normal I was pleased with the way I held up over the duration. This proved to be the difference between Carl and myself with the small advantage I held over him blowing out over the final two laps and I was able to finish strong in third place.


Not too much racing scheduled for the next few weeks but with the Cairns World Cup round coming up fast I will be training hard looking to build on my form and earn a good result there at the end of April.

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