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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January 17th, 2015

Hanmer Hammerhead

It was a last minute decision to head up to Hanmer Springs for this race. I hadn’t raced it in over 3 years so I decided on the morning of the race that it would be a fun event to do once again. My coach had me on a 4hr steady pace training ride so I made it tried to ride as conservatively as possible with an average heart rate in the end of 147bpm. Nice and low! The course was great fun and I ended up riding for another couple of hours home on the road bike to round off a good solid day on the bike. Hopefully I’ll be back next year.

January 11th, 2015

NZMTB Cup, Wanaka

The race was held up at the Cardrona ski resort which had only just recently been opened for mountain bike access. It was my first time up there so I was a little unsure what to expect. The ski resort was much bigger than I had imagined with plenty of accommodation, chairlifts and mountain bike tracks. Although there was sunshine and blue skies, our lofty 1,800m altitude along with a cold mountain breeze cancelled that out with temperature on race day being in the low teens. It was actually a lot better than the forecasted weather which predicted 2 degrees and rain in the morning!

During my warm up I must have incurred a slow leak on my rear tyre as when the race started I immediately noticed it had a very low pressure. I nursed it around the first lap, pushing hard up the climb to ensure I had enough of a lead before the rough and rocky descent back down to the start finish and the tech zone. I changed my rear wheel in the tech zone and exited onto the track in 4th position approximately 15 secs down on the leaders. I worked hard to quickly bring back the gap and re-establish my lead. I maintained a solid tempo through to the finish, eventually winning in close to 3mins. Overall I was very happy with how I rode. Looking forward to Nationals!

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December 26th, 2014

2014 Wrap Up

After a disappointing World Champs it was finally time to hit the reset button and relax. We hung around a bit longer in Norway to watch the downhill and chill out before jumping on the plane to head back to Germany. The weekend after Worlds I travelled Austria for an Enduro race, the Ischgl Overmountain Challenge, a great event which is very well supported by Cannondale. After a few days riding on my new 27.5 Jekyll I started to get back the Enduro buzz and my speed.  I raced smoothly and came home with 4th position in a stacked field, a result I was very happy with. After the race in Ischgl I flew to Martin Whiteley’s place in Granada, Spain for a couple of weeks rest and relaxation in the Spanish sunshine and plenty of good food. I had a great time there with lots of fun riding on the Jekyll high up in the Sierra Nevada mountain range which was good training for the upcoming Enduro World Series round in Finale Ligure, Italy.

The Enduro World Series race didn’t start out to well after I sustained a partially dislocated thumb in practice. This meant I didn’t practice a couple of stages as much as I would have liked. I had my thumb well taped up but on the first stage I was far too cautious and lost a lot of time. I decided to man up and push through the pain and the next 5 stages went reasonably smoothly, apart from a pinch flat on stage 4 which I was luckily still able to nurse to the finish line. I end up finishing around 32nd I think, with times so tightly packed and with the most star studded field to ever take the start of an Enduro race I was pretty stoked to end up so far up the final results sheet! After Finale it was finally time to come home after a very busy 3 months in the Northern Hemisphere. I’d had some huge highs and big lows but overall I was satisfied with how things had panned out and that I’d tried to make the best out of each situation I found myself in.  It was great to be able to catch up with all my mates once more and to see my family. There wasn’t much time for rest though as I soon had to jump in my car and drive up to Auckland for meetings with Sky Next, and other sponsors. 

I also had to meet with BikeNZ in Cambridge and spent some time training in Rotorua. It was great to be able to catch up with plenty of mates up north along the way also! Something I don’t get the chance to do during the season. I have also managed to escape into the backcountry a couple of times with a few friends for a bit of an adventure in our great backcountry. It’s good to escape the hustle and bustle of town for some fresh mountain air every now and then!  I’ve also competed in a few local events to keep the base fitness level ticking over, The Christchurch Singletrack club’s Mini XC series at Halswell Quarry and the Longbeach Classic. I also raced in the 3 Peaks Enduro in Dunedin which is probably my favourite event in NZ. Amazing tracks and fun genuine people make for a great weekends racing. I improved on my 3rd place overall last year to take home first place overall, pretty stoked! I’ll be back next year. It was also an honour to receive the award for North Canterbury overall Sportsperson of the year based on my results this season. I have re-signed with Cannondale Factory racing for 2 more years commencing on the 1st of January. I’m excited about what lies ahead and know that some of the bad luck I’ve had the past two years is due to turn around. I’m looking forward to giving it my all once again and hopefully collecting plenty of race wins in the process! That’s always the goal anyway haha. Thanks to all my sponsors for making life a lot easier and to my parents, friends and coach for keeping me in line and training hard.

I’ll keep you all updated, cheers Anton.

September 10th, 2014

2014 MTB World Championships, Hafjell, Norway

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My 4th World Championship event didn’t end up as I had dreamed. After finding my form again at the Commonwealth Games I had high hopes for the World Champs but I didn’t have the legs I needed to be truly competitive on the day. I had a great start entering the single track first which allowed me some clear trail and breathing space for a few minutes. After one lap I was starting to feel pretty smashed and had to back off to prevent blowing up completely. I was able to find my rhythm riding in around 5th position. The riders at the pointy end of the race kept chopping and changing and with one lap to go I was still fighting for the 5th spot.

The American Howard Grotts flew past me on the last lap and he eventually came home in 3rd position. I couldn’t hold his wheel and finally crossed the line in 6th position. Not the rainbow stripes I had dreamed of but I left everything out on the track so can be satisfied knowing that I made the most of what the body could give on the day. Very motivated for next season and to put my bad luck from the past 2 years behind me! For now it’s time to relax and hit the reset button. A huge thanks to my family, supporters, and my main sponsors; Cannondale, Oakley, SKY Next and also BikeNZ for all the support they have provided and giving me such a great platform to go forward off. Looking forward to proving what I’m capable of next season! Bring it.

  Cooper

August 30th, 2014

2014 World Cup #7 Meribel, France

Cooper

We arrived in Meribel, France for the final World Cup of the year on Wednesday evening to prepare for the race on Sunday morning. The race was at altitude, with the course climbing to around 1,600m. Our accommodation was at 1,800m and I immediately felt the effects of the altitude. Headaches, dry eyes, burning lungs and legs made training and sleeping hard, but by Saturday I was feeling a lot more acclimatised and after an easy spin on the course I was feeling reasonably confident I could achieve a solid result. I had an okay start, slotting into the single-track in around 7th position. 

I made a concentrated effort to ride at a steady tempo early on and then build into the race as it entered the final laps. Near the end of the 3rd lap I lost my chain which cost me around 25secs and the group I was with. I slipped back around 3 places and had to try and regain my composure and get back into the race which was difficult without another rider to ride with. I managed to catch and pass the 8th and 9th placed riders on the next couple of laps and then set off in pursuit of the 6th place rider who I almost caught on the final lap, eventually finishing in 7th position. Not my best day on the bike but 7th is still a solid result considering my dropped chain and the altitude which seemed to affect me a bit more than some of the other riders. It was only my 3rd race at altitude, so it was a good learning experience as to how it affects me and what measures I need to take in the future to minimise those effects. I live at around 5m above sea level at home in New Zealand so altitude always seems to hit me hard! I guess the body isn’t used to it. I’m looking forward to World Champs which are only around 200m above sea level in Norway. Only one week to go until the final XCO race of the year!

Cooper

August 15th, 2014

2014 World Cup # 6 Windham, USA

Cooper

The last time a World Cup was held in Windham, USA was in 2012 where I competed as a junior. I rode to the win then but I knew coming back as an U23 in 2014 would make it a tougher result to repeat, especially on a course which doesn’t play to my strengths particularly well. It is basically one big climb followed by a fast open descent. After my Commonwealth Games performance I was feeling confident in my current form and pushed hard early on to maintain pace with the leader Jordan Sarrou of France. Near the top of the climb on the 2nd lap I decided the pace was too fast for me to maintain over the remaining 3.5 laps so I eased back and settled into my own race rhythm. Our fast pace at the beginning meant that I had some distance to work with the chasing group of 5 or 6 riders. I tried to maintain a solid tempo each lap and dug deep on the last climb to come home in a solid 2nd position, 40secs off the winner and about 20secs ahead of third. It was another confidence inspiring result before the all-important World Champs in just a few weeks time. Feeling good and happy to have some more UCI points in the bag.

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August 8th, 2014

2014 Commonwealth Games, Glasgow

What a crazy week it’s been! It’s a little hard to believe I’ve just won a Commonwealth Games gold medal. It literally is a childhood dream of mine come true and the perfect result to get what has been a real roller coaster of a year back on track. Not to mention a big boost of confidence heading into the World Champs in just 4 weeks’ time. I spent 5 weeks building up to the race at home on Christchurch which I believe contributed to my success, along with the support of my team in Europe. It had been a sort of rush and bust start to the season, a lot of travel and races with no chance to retain my form and keep training patterns going which showed in my results. Mistakes that I’ve learnt a lot from! I enjoyed the stability and familiar pattern of training week in week out on the Port Hills in Christchurch.

The weather was very kind to me considering it was the middle of winter with little rain and temperatures reaching between 10-15 degrees most days which made life a lot easier. I flew out of Christchurch on the 14th of July to the Cannondale Factory Racing team base near Stuttgart where I stayed for 10 days to recover from the jetlag and squeeze in a few more quality training days. I was stoked to be given a special new bike to first use at the Commonwealth Games. I then flew to Glasgow to join the rest of the New Zealand team in the Athletes Village about 5 days prior to my race. The atmosphere in the Kiwi camp was electric whenever a fellow athlete was competing with all eyes glued to the TV screens in the Athlete’s lounge.  The track team was hugely successful raking in numerous medals across a range of events, so the bar was certainly set very high for me and the other 3 Kiwi mountain bikers, Sam, Kate and Karen. I had felt great on the track and my legs seemed to have recovered well from the travel so I definitely felt like the win was going to be a possibility, and a medal a realistic prospect. The race didn’t start very fast but felt like it grew in intensity around the 2nd or 3rd lap. I felt really fresh the whole race and never like I was near my limit so with one lap to go I decided to put the acid on the others on a few of the climbs. I was able to open up small gaps but with such short climbs it was hard to establish any real sort of distance between myself and the opposition. 

With 500m to go it was down to just 3 riders, myself, Sam Gaze and the Aussie Dan McConnell. With about 200m to go I hit the gas from the front and immediately got a gap, which I was able to maintain until the finish line! It was a little hard to believe really. I had worked so hard the past few months with my sole intention of performing well at the Commonwealth Games so to cross the line in first place was really a dream come true.  Thanks to everyone for your support. Now my attention shifts to the World Championships in Norway on the 5th of September. I will use the World Cup rounds in Windham ,USA and Meribel, France to help finalise my build up for the World Champs so don’t have huge expectations for those events but would still like to achieve some good results of course! We are well and truly at the sharp end of the season now.

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June 12th, 2014

2014 World Cups # 3 & 4 Nove Mesto and Albstadt

After a couple of weeks at home it was time to return to Europe for the third World Cup round of the year in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. I had recovered quickly from the jetlag and my legs felt reasonably good but I’d only had about 10 good training days after returning home from Australia so wasn’t expecting to be at the pointy end of the field. I had a solid start, and felt quite good on the start loop and opening lap, making a concentrated effort not to push too deep early on and sitting within 30 secs of the leaders. Halfway around the second lap I got the ‘stitch’ in my stomach and had to slow right down to help it go away which lost a lot of time and places. It was all downhill from there and I eventually crossed the line in 16th position.

One week after Nove Mesto was the fourth World Cup of the year in Albstadt, Germany. Keegan and I both woke up on Wednesday morning with a head cold which was incredibly frustrating for me as I had hoped to be able to train hard and recover well in the days building up but instead I had to take things cautiously to avoid the cold spreading into my chest. I felt a little better on race day and came through after the first lap in 4th position with the leaders. Halfway around the second lap I started to drop back but came strong again for the last couple of laps, eventually taking 15th place which I was pretty happy with considering my health. I am now back home in NZ for 5 weeks to complete my build up for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on the 29th of July.