2013 was a very up and down season for me. What started out looking promising after winning the Elite New Zealand National champs and building turned to disaster just one day before the first World Cup in Albstadt, Germany. I fell ill to a virus, most likely gastroenteritis which was subsequently followed by a bad chest infection and then a head cold after arriving home in NZ to seek treatment. After finally regaining my health 2-3 months after first falling ill I was able to return to Europe to begin my assault on the remainder of the season. I managed to get some good weeks training in in Spain before heading to Andorra for my first World Cup back. Unfortunately I came down with some terrible food poisoning a few days before the race so was far from my best but managed to piece together a solid race anyway to finish 18th.
A couple of weeks later was the Mt Saint Anne World Cup which I was finally healthy for and feeling great. It was a feeling of immense relief more than anything when I crossed the line first and in doing so became the youngest male ever to win an Under 23 World Cup. World Champs were a couple of weeks after Mt Saint Anne and things were finally looking good for me again. 1.5 weeks out from race day I felt incredible but unfortunately in the 5-6 days building up to the race I felt well below my best. After an early race slump to down to 13th place I had to settle for 4th place just 7secs off a medal. Eager to improve on my World Champs performance I dug deep at the final World Cup of the year in Hafjell, Norway coming home in second position and rounding off an extremely hectic XCO season full of highs and lows. After Norway I found some time to relax before heading to Italy for a bit and then onwards to Southern France for the famous Trans Provence Enduro stage race. I had one of my most enjoyable weeks on the bike ever, riding some amazing trails in spectacular scenery and making some great new friends. I also managed to finish up in 7th place overall in a stacked field even after a puncture on the first day, a result which I was satisfied with in my first ever Trans Provence. I joined the team in Roc D’Azur, also in Southern France, doing some promotional work before returning home to NZ. In December I raced in the Three Peaks Enduro in Dunedin which I finished 3rd overall. I rode perfectly in each stage but on the final stage of the event, less than 1min from the finish I had a mechanical, losing my chain which cost me the overall lead putting me back into 3rd overall. I was very happy with my times though and how I performed in what is a new discipline for me, but one that I am proving to be very competitive in, even against some of the world’s best riders.
The NZ summer will be spent predominantly doing long base training rides and having fun on my bike, before kicking off the 2014 season in February with the Nelson National Cup round and the NZ National Champs where I will be back to defend my title on the 15th of February in Rotorua. I’ve been working hard as usual and hopefully 2014 will prove to be a successful season without any major hiccups along the way! I’m looking forward to joining up with the Cannondale team again in early March for some races in the USA and Europe before kick starting the World Cup season once more in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.