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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Elite Nationals 2012

After Vineyards I flew to Christchurch with Emily and Kate to get ready for the 2012 elite nationals. This is my third year of competing in this race and I absolutely love it. The course is awesome with a 1.5 (ish) km climb up Dyers Pas on every lap (7 laps) and the rest on pretty flat roads that are fairly open to the wind. Unfortunately the start list was missing a few big names including Linda Villlumson and quite a few of the track riders, but it still had some pretty good talent including (dear I say it) some bloody good triathletes and also a handful of other International riders.
The race started off relatively slowly with most of the field in no particular rush. Sequoia Cooper and Lauren Ellis got in a break together early on and started gaining some good time on the main field. Coming up to the 4th lap Kate Mcilroy and I decided it would be a good idea to put some pressure on on the hill and try to get a little break going. Kate started the hill off at a good tempo, dropping quite a few of the riders, then half way up the hill I went to the front and had a go, forming a group of 4. We managed to catch Sequoia and Lauren and then dropped them on the hill. Coming into the last lap we had about 2 minutes on a chasing group of about 5. Reta Trotman unfortunately came off coming around the round-about and was unable to rejoin our group. So it was three of us battling it out on the climb. Nicky Samuels was too strong on the last 200 metres of the hill and rode away while Kate and I tried to keep her in sight. The last lap was quite a lot of pain, we worked hard together but were unable to pull her back in. I ended up finishing in 2nd place, which with all that has been going on in the last few months I was pretty happy about. Also, Reta Trotman had an amazing race after falling off. She got caught by the chasing 5 and then broke away from the on the hill finishing in 4th place.. a new rider who is super strong and one to watch for the future!
Need a little more practive opening champagne bottles I think.. a little bit slow.
Still trying...
On the subject of this year, I am now allowed to announce that I am in a professional womens cycling team called Kelly Benefit Strategies – Optum Health Pro Cycling. We will be managed by Rachel Heal who also managed the Colavita team last year (this team is basically Colavita except we have new sponsorship names and have joined up with the already existing men’s KBS team).
Because it is a top team I will be the worker for the year, trying to help out the top riders in the team as much as I can. This is an amazing opportunity and I really cannot wait. I would just like to thank some people who have made this possible for me, Including; Andy Reid, Richard Bates, Craigs Investment Partners, Koops Cycles, Tauranga Cycling Club, and most importantly, Mum and Dad!

I am off on February the 7th (just over a week eek) where I will be flying into LA for a 2 week training camp and then heading to Asheville, North Carolina where I will be based for the 7 months.

Will keep everyone updated!
Courteney =)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tour De Vineyards

Each year on Boxing day I head to Nelson with the gang (Emily Collins, Kate Chilcott, James Williamson and James Canny) and compete in some pre-nationals racing (and to work off the Christmas fiests). This year it was the Tour De Vineyards which is a 5 day tour consisting of a prologue, lap race, 2 road races and then a gruelling crit-trype race. This tour is a bit of fun
where we compete in it pretty relaxed with the plan of getting a good leg stretch out before the big race on 7th of Jan. I went into the racing not knowing what was going to happen to my leg. It was still very on and off but I am now 80% sure I know what the issue is and with a lot of exercising it is definitely on the mend.

The racing started off with a prologue, half the field went all out on tt bikes, whereas the other half either rolled some clip on bars or just went on the drops. I decided the day before that I should probably pack some clip-on’s, even if I have not used them for quite awhile (it seemed like a good idea at the time). The tt felt very hard and I felt ridiculously restricted leaning over on the bars (turns out putting the seat up and forward is a good idea when putting on aero bars). I gave it everything and ended up finishing 8th, 37 seconds down from Gabrielle Vermunt (1st
place). I was pretty disappointed with the result but I will learn from my mistakes.

The second race consisted of a 46 km lap race. It was a pretty negative race with not many people wanting to do anything. Reta Trotman had a great ride where she got away and managed to stay away until the end with the rest of the bunch 5 seconds behind.
The 3rd stage was the big one. 130 kms of racing finishing up the horrible Takaka hill (which is about 18km of pretty steep climbing..ouch). The racing started slow with everyone trying to save
themselves, it also rained pretty much the entire way which was really great. With about 30km until the base of the climb a group of 6 of us rode off the front with some good riders including Serena Sheridan and Theresa Adam. We got a pretty good gap going into the hill, and I was feeling good. As soon as we started the climb Theresa, Serena and myself dropped the rest of the break with Theresa powering off in front. Then about 2km into it my left leg started playing
up, particularly in the calf area, then next minute it was seizing, getting tighter every pedal stroke. I took the pressure off for awhile as I knew we had a good gap and the only way I was going to finish the race was if I took it easy for a bit and maybe go harder once (if) it stopped hurting. After a few more km’s it began feeling better so I got into a comfortable rhythm and just
rode at my own pace for the rest, finishing 3rd with Theresa and Serena 1st and 2nd. At the top I was border-line hypothermic as I was drenched and freezing. Thankfully the Williamsons were there to warm me up and throw me in the van with the heat blasting. Then Greg Taylor from wheel works gave Emily, Kate and I a ride home from the race.. not too sure what we would have done without Greg and his partner.. We would probly be riding back home from the race, which is about 40km.. in the rain. Very thankful for the wheelworks crew!!

The next day we woke up to some torrential rain and a bit of wind.. So were all pretty excited for a 120km race. The rain did not ease what-so-ever throughout the race, and I couldn’t
really see a thing the entire way. Legs felt a little tired thanks to the lack of warm down the day before, but everybody was in the same boat as it was almost impossible to warm down after that stage. The race had many attacks and also a lot of soft spots. A few of us pushed it hard over the biggest climb of the stage, getting a good gap but because the climb was a wee bit too short and the downhill straight after we got caught pretty fast. It ended up with a bunch sprint with Kate winning and me safely in the bunch.

The final day was a hilly criterium. It started off hard and continued the entire way through with attack after attack. I went about 200metres too early for the sprint (as it finished on a downhill, so I went for it on the uphill before hand and tried to hold on but blew too early). However it
ended up working well because Emily was on my wheel so I gave her a great un-planned lead out and she took the win!
Riding in the sunshine capital of NZ; Nelson... YEA RIGHT.

Overall I finished 3rd and 2nd in QOM. Was a good few days to re-introduce my legs to some racing (I think they may have forgot how to go hard). Now its Nationals coming up and I cannot wait! Working hard on the leg and it is feeling better already so fingers crossed it stays good.
Talk soon,
Courteney =)
(Photos thanks to Richard Spooner, rickoshayphotos-Sporting-Images)