Exciting African Times

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Since signing with my new team this proverb has stuck in my mind.

I am really excited to be part of a new team that will be travelling afar as Asia and Africa.  I may only be part of the team that heads to Asia but really excited to have the opportunity to race that style of racing.

I’m looking forward to hanging with my team mates and our Kenyan members to see a different cultural aspect and the racing style adopted in different countries. As well as  hopefully pass on the knowledge of our style.

The new African Continental team Kenyan Riders Downunder (KRD) is the amalgamation of Kenyan Riders and Pro Team Downunder. The 2016 team consists of 6 Kenyans, 4 Australians, & 3 New Zealander riders.

KRD have carefully selected talented, up-and-coming and motivated riders who all want an opportunity to prove themselves against the best in the world. “We have provided a race schedule which will ultimately develop and challenge the team throughout 2016 by providing a range of international racing opportunities focusing on UCI tours in Oceania, Asia and North America. “ Stewart Crowley, Team Manager.

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Tuesday morning I flew back into Melbourne and was lucky enough to meet four of my Kenyan teammates as well as Nick one of the men behind the ‘vision’ of KRD. My first impression was how polite they are and their willingness to help.

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No rest for the wicked though with the Cadel Road Race on Sunday and with 9 world tour teams taking the start line, excited is an understatement.

From there its straight into Herald Sun tour which starts on Wednesday night. Sun Tour is the one I’m really looking forward to starting in. Hearing stories from some of the guys I train with, its a tour I really want to do.  This year with 3 world tour teams doing it its a chance for us to shine on a world stage.  Put our ‘noses out front’.

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Keep an eye out for our team kit courtesy of Ventou Custom Cycling Wear

Thanks everyone for the continued support and I look forward to seeing you all out there on the road!

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Nationals a good gauge

Napier hosted the Cycling New Zealand Elite Road Nationals this year and what a test it was.

I flew in from Melbourne on Monday with just enough time to be fitted by the Master – Jeff Webb of Avantiplus Waitakere on my borrowed TT bike (thank you – Michael) and after a 7 hour drive spread over Wednesday Thursday there was enough time for a small reccy of the TT course Friday race day.  It was great to catch up with an old team mate Daniel Molyneaux who managed to helped me out on Friday.

Also really good to catch up with my old mate Jim Denton who started riding at the same time as me 4-5 years ago and we both raced the Taupo – Rotorua Flyer as our first race.  Great to see him bright and chirpy after facing some adversity in the past couple of years.  Inspiring bloke!

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Jim & Me

The TT on Friday was a challenging 40km with 2 descent climbs and a couple of kickers around the back.  Average race for me for a few reasons but gail force winds didn’t help.  I changed my wheel choice a couple of times with the final choice of an 808 on front which was a bad move.

Tried to pace myself and caught first guy just after first climb which was great and I felt like I was in a good rythm.  The last climb of lap of the first lap I could see a second rider in front but now it was into a block headwind.  I managed to catch that rider on the second lap but was then passed by a flying Tom Scully which meant I had already lost 2 minutes o him. (He did hold the fastest time until the last 2 riders of the day).  Tried to keep him in sight then dropped chain on last climb.  No excuse as I was already down by too much at that stage.   Overall I felt good but just wasn’t feeling as efficient as normal and struggled with big dish up the front having to ‘catch the wheel’ a couple of times.

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TT on borrowed bike.  Credit: Wheelworks Racing

A day R&R followed including a ride on the road course to see what hills were involved and get my head around it.

Sunday, race day, we woke to howling winds and sun, it was going to be a tough day in the saddle.

Break was the place to be on the day but I didn’t want to spend too much energy until the end of the race and as there weren’t many teams it just turned into a race of attrition.  When the break formed no one would really chase it so you had to make your own way across or stay in the bunch.   Coming back into town the cross winds split the field and I was with the main bunch of 20 which was falling back off.

The town section has us doing laps of Napier to finish off the race and Hospital hill was a steep kicker with a good crowd which we had to negotiate more times than I enjoyed.  This is where the bunch split into 2 and I managed to get back on after the hill before the head wind section, block head wind.   Followed a couple of the big hitters through next section but wasn’t keen on taking a turn with a team mate up the road.  Next time up the hill the bunch split again and again managed to get back on but the next time up it really split as they were trying to hit it every time.   There was no getting back on again so I ended up riding a couple of laps by myself enjoying the atmosphere and amazing crowds before being pulled out with the rest so I spent the rest of the afternoon watching my new team mate ride like a boss.

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Hurting on the hill. #sockgameisstrong Credit:  Gillian Krzanich

A big bonus for me was seeing my new team mate Jason Christie (read his race report) taking the overall win for the day with a lone break 30k from the end.  It is going to be a real privilege riding in the team of the silver fern this year.

Jason Christie win

Credit: Alphapix/John Cowpland

Europe, Injury, Future!

So! What happened in Europe? What am I up to? What’s next?

Well let me fill you in!

Europe started off on the wrong foot with me snapping my bike into pieces on the 1st Stage of the Tour of Ulster in Belfast. Unlike my crash 4 weeks prior in Adelaide I couldn’t do much about this one as I was taken out from behind. I came out of the crash with just bruising and swelling to my lower legs from being run over but my bike was worse for wear.

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Snap!

That stage got abandoned and I was able to complete the rest of the tour on a borrowed bike. I jumped on another borrowed bike until the backup arrived and brought over a slick looking 2014 team issue Trek Madone. I tested it out with the rest of the team at the Shay Elliot Memorial cruising in for 16th after three of my teammates were in the break, Jesus finishing 7th!

The time had come for the UCI 2.2 An Post Ras and I felt like I had okay form but I lacked legs early in the first 2 stages losing time. Heading into stage 3 I was sitting 27th GC over 6 minutes down. The chance came to jump across to the move of the day around the 60km mark and I took it. The day planned out well, I didn’t have the best legs but I rode the smartest stage of my life, I thought. I saved energy where I could and coming into the last 30kms with the peloton beginning to chase I dropped back to the car to talk with Frank. The 6 of us in the break started working well together like we had most of the day. I saw who was strongest on the long roads into a headwind and with 45-50sec at the 10km to go mark it was looking unlikely that the bunch would let us survive. We were down to 5 men and I covered the Team 3M rider. He attacked and so did I straight over the top of him inside the last 4kms.  For a minute they all looked at each other and gave me a bit of space, but it didn’t last and they came across to me and at the 3km mark the peloton had arrived and it was over. I rolled in on the back of the bunch dreaming of what could of been but I wouldn’t say I was disappointed as I rode smart and left it out there. Of course I had ‘what ifs’ that night but it was over, time for the next stage.

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Subaru once again looking after us in another country.

The next two stages hurt. Mentally more than anything. I didn’t put myself in the best position and paid the price getting caught out in the crosswinds both days. I wasn’t riding how I wanted. Both legs were attached, but they weren’t working how I was telling them to!

The last two stages were chalk and cheese from the previous two. Finishing in the pack, something I came a long way not to do. I was on the up and my legs were feeling better on the bike day by day although a little tight in places, on to Belgium it was.

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After a day of travelling Daniel and I arrived at ‘The Farm’. A well known home stay for cyclists owned by Staf Boone. The home of Kingsnorth International Wheelers a cycling team with a prestigious pedigree I later found out.

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The stairs of death at ‘The Farm’

I was excited for our first race coming off the Ras, sadly it wasn’t what I had hoped for having to pull out half way through thanks to a swollen lower leg. Also making the trip from the Ras to Belgium was the NZ track team. In good kiwi spirit they helped me out and made their resources available to me. Rest was on the cards for several days to try get through the problem but stepping out again the result was the same.

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Catching up with Mudgway at the NZ headquarters in Belguim, was cool to see Agostino’s bike up on the wall.

I was lame! Not happy. I rested a week trying to get one last race in to no avail. While this was happening Daniel crashed out snapping his bike, while Darcy was flying!

Belgium was everything they say; windy, narrow roads, full gas. If you’re not in the break your nowhere, simple as that.

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Another kiwi, Cory Cannings!

I arrived home and after sleeping for a day I was straight into the Dr and then on for an ultrasound. The news wasn’t good, an inflamed plantaris saw me on the sidelines for 5 weeks.

Frustration was an understatement! I wanted to ride. Wind, rain, cold I didn’t care I just wanted to be on my bike getting ready for the next assault. Reflection just made me realise two things. One, it confirmed where I want to go with my cycling career. And two, I had unfinished business! The news was also bad on the Australian front. With races being cancelled the calendar has thinned out.

In my break I have turned to other ways to drive my motivation along and get ready for the second half of the season. One thing is for sure I’ll be on the hunt for more racing to get me up to speed for the big goals I have highlighted.

Massive thanks goes out to my team Subaru Albion and our sponsors for giving me my first taste of European racing as well my personal supporters who without I don’t think I would be in this position.

Stay tuned!

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What’s next?

After opening up my season with the team at Nz cycle classic it was off to Sydney for the team launch and then up to Toowoomba for Oceania champs.

NZ Cycle Classic was my first time riding for GC (general classification).
It was really interesting. A lot different to just doing a job for your teammates. I was looking at starting my season off strongly but felt I had missed an opportunity. Wrong decisions cost me in the end general classification but I left feeling positive and confident. I learned some valuable lessons very quickly and I’m looking forward to the next time. One thing I admired was my teammates belief in me which was through the roof even before the tour started. Their support was awesome and will be repaid.

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Getting a podium on the prologue was a one of the targets of mine heading into the NZCC.

The team launch was a new experience for me.  It was a good night out finally meeting all the team, supporters and sponsors.

Toowoomba didn’t come to much as the break went up the road with young Richard Lawson in there for us. He eventually came back to the bunch with a couple others but that was all as the break stayed away by 2minutes in the end.

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Team presentation night. Meet and greet!

Since then I’ve dialled it back a touch and I’m looking at building towards my next tour and my first NRS event of the year up in Adelaide. A week later I’ll be on a plane headed across to Ireland In the lead up to the An Post Ras, with a little excursion into Belgium for two weeks afterwards.

Once again the An Post Ras is a UCI race, so I’m hoping to get there in good touch. I’ve heard its a bit like Southland. 8 days long, crap weather , and only 5man teams. The days are around 130-160km all week which I’m looking forward to.

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Out training with the team in Sydney in the build up to Oceania Championships. Even got clipped by a car one day!

I’m really enjoying riding and racing my bike at the moment and I can’t wait to get into my next tour. The opportunities Subaru Albion have given me in such a short space if time is awesome. Not only me but there are a couple younger fellas in our ranks that I think can hit the mark in years to come, if they knuckle down.

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Between races I’ve been out racing around town, picking up a few Crit wins here and there.

I’ll be sure to keep you guys updated as much as possible in the lead up and throughout. Also you can follow the team and I on our Facebook page, Instagram, or twitter.

Thanks for all the support back home and now here in Melbourne. It makes the tough times a lot easier having so many awesome people behind you.

If you want to find out more feel free to message me.

Morgz out!