Really positive weekend for me in Napier (home of New Zealand’s Pro Nationals for the last 4 years). I went into the weekend with a strong focus on the Time Trial as it was my last year U23 and wanted to really contest for top honours and wear the Silver Fern for the following year.
I wouldn’t say I was confident going into the Time Trial on Friday because you never really know exactly how the legs will feel because it’s such a hard event to prepare perfectly for. Fortunately I had alright legs in the warm up so I let the atmosphere soak in and just wanted get stuck into it.
I clocked a time of 55 minutes and 1 second. Placing me 5th... A result I wasn’t particularly happy with but also a result I couldn’t be unhappy with. A solid performance and a personal improvement on the course of 55 seconds give or a take a few. Time Trialing is a event that takes a lot of work and it’s something I’m really passionate about so to see such a large improvement in only a year is something really special for me and a big confidence booster heading into my second season with Gateway Devo Cycling Team.
The Road Race on Sunday was something else. I had a plan to get in the early break knowing the final city circuit is really vertically demanding... I know I’m not as quick up the climbs as the likes of George Bennett (Rider for World Tour Team Jumbo-Visma) and Paddy Bevin (Rider for World Tour Team CCC). I achieved that goal after barely a kilometre or mike into the race and the group worked really well for the first 10-20mins to establish a healthy gap reach almost 4 minutes on the rural circuits before cresting the first climb of the inner city circuit. Knowing I’m not super fast on the climbs I wanted to ride them from the front so that I could ride at my own tempo to stay as comfortable as possible. Turned out this tempo was a little too hot for a few from the breakaway eventually narrowing down from 12 to only 4 when the winning move from James Fouche (Team Wiggins Le Col) launched with 3 laps to go. From there it’s a bit blurry, fatigue started to kick in and also the thought of knowing I was on for at the least a top for a nationals was kicking in.
It was a day on the bike when everything seemed to feel right... On those days I’ve learnt it’s important to forget about the names and faces that are riding next to you and get the best out of yourself regardless of who is on your wheel. It happened that that day there were more than a hand full of riders behind me that I look up to and it wasn’t until I had crossed the finish line that, that was the reality. Being a real part of the race with all the big guns was the biggest win for me.... not the result. Visualising in training what I wanted to do on the day and then it happening is probably cooler than any medal or number on a sheet.
I ended up 4th Across the line and 3rd placed U23 Rider.
I can’t wait for 2019 with Gateway Devo Cycling Team. I’ve come a very long way since this time last year. Let’s see what we can do.
Thank you Concept 78 and Cullen Brown Photography for capturing the moment!