On the 30th of January, I was thrilled to be told I would represent New Zealand as part of the squad to race in Toowoomba, Australia, on the 21st-23rd of February. We all arrived to a humid day in Brisbane before the two hour drive to our final destination in Toowoomba on the Wednesday, two days before race day. Thursday was a chance to get some valuable course literacy under our belts which would prove vital for the 25km ITT on the following day.
The time trial course was certainly a strong man’s course. My placing of 31st was disappointing, even though falling sick just a few days beforehand had affected me negatively. Staying positive and making the most out of the trip was the new goal in mind. Jake Marryatt came an impressive 6th place with Corbin Mason-Smith coming in just behind at 7th place. Alex West was 34th after unfortunate difficulties with equipment. The girls’ squad had a very successful time trial and saw Madison Farrant coming 2nd, Amanda Jamieson coming 3rd and Elizabeth Stannard, 7th.
Saturday was the Junior Women’s road race day. It was a very testing course, consisting of many steep climbs, false flats and strong cross-winds. The girls completed two laps of the course which accumulated to 71km. The first lap in this race saw a big breakaway leave the peloton behind which consisted of Elizabeth Stannard and Amanda Jamieson. This was a promising breakaway as the gap to the peloton was over four minutes and both Elizabeth and Amanda were driving the pace as they came past. Yet again, the promising talent of Elizabeth saw her leave the competition behind and come away with a solo victory to take the U19 Women’s Oceania Road Race title. Amanda had dropped in the closing kilometres and lost a couple of minutes to Elizabeth, coming in at a respectable 5th place.
Sunday, the final day of racing, saw the Junior Men cover 106.5km. After riding the course on Saturday, we were aware of the brutal nature of the course and were preparing ourselves for a tough day on the bike. Sickness was an overwhelming factor I could not ignore, on Sunday morning, and after speaking to the coach, Wayne Girdlestone, I planned to devote my race to aid the other team members towards success. Driving the peloton for the first quarter of the race was my job and soon after I peeled off, Corbin Mason-Smith made a breakaway. I squeezed the last drips of diesel out of my tank and took control of the peloton for 8km to try and slow the pace down and to disturb the rhythm of any chasers. Corbin spent most the day in multiple breakaways and his strong efforts resulted in coming in 10th place with Jake Marryatt in 7th and Alex West in 24th.
The 2014 Zarraffa’s Oceania Championships was the most successful Oceania Championships ever competed in by a New Zealand Junior squad with the girls winning three medals across two events and the boys getting two top 10 positions in both events. I would like to thank my parents, Mike Groube, Bike Manawatu, Grey Street Dental Surgery and Adam Curry for making this trip possible through sponsorship and continuous moral support. I would also like to thank Denise Brown, Wayne Girdlestone, Tracy Herbert and Lee Yates for helping me with my coaching and training. My next goal is to compete in the Tour of Toowoomba on the 22nd of May as part of the Australian National Road Series.