The first World Cup of the year is always the most nerve wracking. It’s the first race of the year where the best of the best are on the start line and you get a true benchmark of where you are at. With my highest World ranking ever of 5th I was set for a good start position on the front row. The gun went and I clipped in right away and got off to a great start. I lead the start loop and expected some riders to swing around me before the first single-track and was surprised when they didn’t.

Like many others I wasn’t sure of what to expect so it was a nice surprise to find myself still at the head of the race at the end of the first lap. Halfway through the second lap I found I wasn’t quite able to keep up with the pace and had to button off and try find a steady rhythm that I could sustain for the duration of the race. 

I suffered a bit in the middle laps but had a strong last 2 laps to bring it home in 6th. A result I’m happy with as I feel it was definitely the best result I could have had on the day. Overall it was a very successful day for NZ mountain biking, with Sam Gaze taking the win – a first elite World Cup title for NZ, and Ben Oliver taking second place in the Under 23 event. 

It’s very early days in what will be a long season and I personally feel I still have a lot of room to improve, however I know others will too. It will be interesting to see how things pan out at the next World Cup in Albstadt in around 9 weeks time!

Photo credit: Matt DeLorme

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