July 7th, 2015

2015 World Cup # 3 Lenzerheide, Switzerland

This was the first real race of the year at altitude, or I guess the second if you count the NZ Cup round at Cardrona back in January. I still feel like I’m relative novice at altitude compared to most of my European and American competitors so I was curious to see how the thin air would affect me.  At 1500m above sea Lenzerheide is still around 700m lower than where we will race at the World Championships in Andorra.  Each day in training I felt more and more acclimatised to the altitude we were at which was a good sign.

I had a flying start, moving from the second row into 3rd or 4th position by the time we hit the first singletrack. There were a couple of tense moments with riders crashing just in front of me and jostling for position but by the end of the first lap I was with the leaders. On the second lap up the main climb I was forced to hold back and watch a few riders ride off up the road as I made a conscious effort not to go to deep early on in the 7 lap race. This tactic paid off and halfway through I started to reel the riders in front of me back in. I pushed really hard to try and catch Howard Grotts, the American in 3rd place but couldn’t quite catch him in the end, settling for a solid but very satisfying 4th place. It’s a great feeling to be back fighting for the top few spots again and I’m looking forward to the next World Cups in Mont Saint Anne and Windham in early August.

Cooper

June 10th, 2015

BMC Racing Cup Granichen, Switzerland

The week following Albstadt was another big race in Granichen, Switzerland as part of the BMC Racing Cup. It was a stacked field but with HC Elite points up for grabs I set my goal as a top 15 finish in the Elite Men. The mercury soared north of 30 degrees which made racing just that little bit more uncomfortable. I had a solid start entering the single-track inside the top 15. I managed to find a good group to ride with making up positions 9 through to 12 and sat with them for the majority of the race. On the last 2 laps I faded a bit but managed to hang on for 12th position in Elite and 2nd U23 picking up some valuable points. Now I’m looking forward to 3 weeks good solid training before the next World Cup in Lenzerheide, Switzerland on the 5th of July. I’d love to be back on the podium by then!

Cooper

June 1st, 2015

2015 World Cup # 2 Albstadt, Germany

I had managed a few good training sessions the week following Nove Mesto and was feeling in better shape physically and mentally. I slept well leading into the race and managed 7.5 hours the night before the race instead of just 4 hours the night before Nove Mesto.

Cooper

Racing at 9.00 am is something I still have to adjust too. I’m definitely not a morning person so a 5:30 am alarm sure isn’t my favourite way to wake up on the morning of a World Cup. I started on the third row after my poor performance the week prior and managed to enter the single-track around 10th position. I made a concentrated effort to not push too hard early on and midway through the race I was around 15th position. I had my sights locked on a top 10 finish and pushed hard over the last few laps crossing the line in 10th position. I was much, much happier with my performance and to be heading in the right direction once again. It just comes down to training and needing more time on the bike.

May 25th, 2015

2015 World Cup # 1 Nove Mesto, Czech Republic

Cooper

I was really unsure what to expect in Nove Mesto. I’d had a pretty rough build up at home in New Zealand due to falling ill after returning home from the USA. My original plan was to wind back the training after Oceania’s and then do the races in the USA without expectation. But as it turned out I arrived fresh and fast in the US and had some great races. Upon my return home I had to continue to rest up for a further for 2-3 weeks to try and get healthy. I managed to cram a couple of weeks training in before developing a sore throat again and having to take things easy for the 1.5 weeks prior to my departure to Europe. I then had 9 days to try and recover from the travel and jetlag before racing. 

Three days out from the race I started to feel reasonably good again but after a terrible couple of nights sleep before the race for reasons unknown I wasn’t in a good position to perform well. As soon as the starter’s gun sounded I realised I had no energy in my legs and suffered for the whole race, eventually rolling home in 30th position. To say I was gutted would be an understatement, but at least I now had a benchmark to work from. With the second World Cup just one week later in Albstadt, Germany I was under some serious pressure to turn the ship around quick!  

March 23rd, 2015

2015 Bonelli & Fontana US Cups

After Oceania’s I spent a week at home before jumping on the big bird to head Stateside. I arrived on Wednesday afternoon and tried to settle into daily routine as quickly as possible. Not made particularly easy by the time change and a packed schedule but I had to make do nonetheless. Come race day at Bonelli on the Saturday I felt more recovered but still not at 100% so I wasn't expecting much. The mercury had soared to north of 35 degrees Celsius by the time the race started so staying cool was always going to be a huge priority of mine. I had a great start from the second row and hit the front early on leading into the first single-track. After half a lap I decided the pace was too fast to maintain for the remaining 6.5 laps and eased back a little to the main bunch. As the race wore on my legs felt better and better and with two laps to go I found myself fighting it out for 3rd position.

The last lap was flat out and I was very happy to come home in 3rd position especially after such a short turnaround after the long flight and the heat. The lungs took 4 days to recover after breathing in so much dust throughout the course of the race. One week later it was time for the Fontana round of the US Cup series and with HC points up for grabs instead of Cat 1 points like the week  prior it was bound to be a tough day at the office! I felt amazing right from the get go and set about sticking near the front and keeping the pace high.

With 3 laps to go the race was really starting to break up as riders started to get shelled out the back. My legs still felt great and I was very confident I could take the win so I kept the pace up on the second to last lap with the intention of opening up the taps up the climb on the last lap. Everything fell into place and up the last climb I gave it beans to open up a 10 sec gap by the time we reached the descent.  I kept it smooth down the hill to reach the last flat section with 1.5 km to go. From there it was a straight out drag race to the finish line where I took the win by a safe distance! I was over the moon with the result and it was great feeling to put out another world class performance against a stacked international field. Now time to head home and regroup before entering the second phase of the season. So far so good!

March 7th, 2015

Marriotts Hadlee Sports Awards 2015

It was a lovely evening at the Canterbury Sports awards, with plenty of the regions sporting, administrative and coaching talent up for recognition. I had been nominated in the sportsman of the year category and was up against some serious competition from numerous codes of sport. It was a nice surprise and a huge honour to be named as Canterbury’s sportsman of the year and to also take home the supreme award! I’m really looking forward to this upcoming season and hopefully ticking off a few more of my goals!

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March 4th, 2015

2015 Oceania MTB Championships, Toowoomba, Australia

After Nationals I spent the week at home to finalise my preparations for the Oceania Champs in Toowoomba, Australia. I knew I was on good form so was keen to make the most of it and bag plenty of the UCI points that were on offer! I was happy to have received a dispensation to race in the Elite category instead of Under 23 but this also meant to race was going to be absolutely brutal as I would be going up against Dan McConnell the number 3 ranked rider in the world. The temperatures had soared into the 30’s and at around 80% humidity I knew it was going to be a long, tough day at the office. I had a great start and lead into the first single track. From there I kept the pace at a steady tempo as the field started to string out behind. Fellow Kiwi Sam Gaze came through on the second climb to keep the pace high and on the 2nd lap Sam, Dan and I had established a lead over the chasers as we took turns at the front of the race. On the 3rd lap Dan started to ramp up the pace and Sam dropped off, eventually withdrawing from the race. I managed to stick with Dan until halfway through lap 4 of 6. From there I eased up and conserved my 2nd position along with my legs which I still needed for another 3 days of racing! Overall I was very happy with my second position in such a stacked field of riders.

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Day 2 was the Oceania Eliminator Champs. I knew it would be a tough race to win but with UCI Cat 3 points up for grabs I thought I’d may as well give it a nudge! I was the fastest qualifier and progressed through each round easily. In the final I came up against the 2013 Eliminator World Champion Paul van der Ploeg and we had a great battle the whole way around the course. He had too much power in the end and outsprinted me to the line. Happy enough with that!

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Day 3 was the final round of the Subaru Australian National Series, also held in Toowoomba on a very similar track to what the Oceania Champs were held on. I had another good start, slotting second into the single-track behind big man Paul VDP. I managed to overtake him before the first downhill section and started to open up a gap on the chasers before a dropped chain cost me precious time and dropped me back to around 5th spot. I was quickly able to regain my position at the head of the pack before a couple of riders starting launching their own attacks which I was able to follow. I took it easy on the rough descents to prevent my chain from falling off again and lap by lap the field whittled down to just a few remaining riders. On the 4th lap Dan took the front again and powered away from the rest of the pack. I chased hard to eventually come home in second position less than a minute back. Very happy with how my legs felt after such a short turnaround between races.

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The final days racing was a UCI Cat 3 Short Track Race, 25mins + 3 laps. I kept amongst the top 3 at the head of the race as the laps wound down until with 3 laps to go it was just Dan and myself left to battle it out. I played my cards perfectly and led into the last lap before opening up the taps on the final descent to open up a 10m gap on Dan but heartbreakingly my chain dropped off JUST before exiting the single track onto the finishing straight. I popped it back on and crossed the line in second, pretty disappointed not to grab a gold medal on the last day of completion but nonetheless happy with how I rode! We then rushed back to our accommodation to shower up, pack our bags and bikes and escape to the airport. Time to replace a worn drivetrain I think!!

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I will spend the next week at home taking it easy before jetting off to the California for 2 more races as part of the Sho-air US cup. Can’t wait!  

February 14th, 2015

2015 National Championships, Rotorua

After all the hype in the media and my 2nd placing last year on the identical track in Rotorua I was feeling particularly nervous for this one! Having said that I was also feeling confident as I knew I was in a good run of hot form. I really wanted to regain the national champions’ jersey so I could wear it on the world stage once again. The start of the race went to plan and I felt great on the first lap, keeping a fast pace as the field whittled down to just 3 riders at the head of the race, myself, Sam Gaze and Dirk Peters. On the 2nd lap Dirk couldn’t maintain the fast pace and dropped off to leave just Sam and I to duke it out for the remaining 4.5 laps. It was a very tactical cat and mouse game just as it was last year and I was unable to get away from Sam until halfway around the final lap when he made a small mistake which gave me a 10 metre lead which I was then able to capitalise on. I pushed hard to the finish and crossed the line with a solid gap to reclaim the Elite National Champion’s title! Stoked! I can’t wait to wear the jersey both locally and on the World stage.

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February 8th, 2015

2015 Kaiwara Classic

It had been 3 years since I last raced the Kaiwara Classic and I was excited to make a return to an event that had helped spark my passion for mountain biking when I first raced it at 12 years old. The course features some serious climbing and the hot weather made for a testing day at the office. I covered the approximately 45 km in around 1hr 44 to take the win in a new record time and got in a good solid hit out before Nationals in a weeks time. It was a great day at the office and I loved catching up with plenty of old cycling friends, not to mention the Fresh Harris Meats Butchery sirloin steak that I won as a prize!! I could never marry a vegetarian!

January 24th, 2015

2015 St James Epic

The St James Epic has been a favourite of mine ever since I first raced it 3 years ago. The race travels 103km through the beautiful St James Station and with plenty of climbing and rugged terrain it is a true test of ability. I decided to treat this year’s race as a long training ride and slipped off the front of the lead group down the back of Mailing Pass, the first big descent. From there I just kept riding a steady tempo, finishing in 4hrs 51mins to take my 3rd win in a row. It was an extremely hot day with temperatures in the high 30’s so I was grateful I didn’t have to push hard the whole race and could just ride a steady tempo. My average heart rate in the end was 136bpm which was a lot less than last year where I pushed a bit harder. Hope to be back next year for my 4th year in a row, schedule permitting.

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