SIMON VAN VELTHOOVEN
Cambridge, New Zealand
Since the Commonwealth Games I was lucky enough to complete the second half of the Keirin season in Japan incident free with no crashes or training injuries.
Japan post Commonwealth Games was an entirely different feeling as I wasn’t concerned about training for the games, having to be careful about everything and ultimately avoid crashing; I could race a little more ruthlessly and take a few more chances….
This newsletter update comes with mixed feelings. I had an excellent race win in Ogaki against a number of great Japanese riders, yet it is time to say goodbye to Japan this season, set up shop at the Avantidrome in Cambridge and train my arse off through to Rio, 2016.
However back to Japan and my win in Ogaki – it was a huge milestone for me as it was a dream since getting the initial contract back in 2009 which I remember well as it was on my 21st birthday! To get the 1-1-1 in Ogaki was awesome as it’s bloody hard to get. Many riders get a number of wins, but to get the winning streak is very rare and unheard of.
The following week after the race win I had another great race in Fukui and gave my fellow international rider a lead out and he secured the race win. It was a great battle against two other strong Senko riders which meant I had to start my sprint bloody early and ended up sprinting for around 700m flat out.
After arriving home from Japan I was straight down to Cambridge for New Zealand’s annual Class 1 UCI race meet over the weekend of the 20th September.
I was not expecting much as racing in Japan is like chalk and cheese to the indoor boards however I knew I had some strength in my legs, just not much speed of tactical nous. A mix of Jetlag and lifting boxes into my new pad wasn’t the best build up plan.
The first day was the match sprint and after qualifying in a 10.2 I managed to race my way through the rounds right into the finals and ended up 4th overall being beaten my two Aussies and Sam Webster. The next day was the Keirin which I knew I had some legs for but was absolutely buggered from the full days racing previously. My heat went well but then drew a harder heat and decided I just had to hit it with full steam which I did whilst also riding a bigger gear than usual! After winning the semi the final was going to be a barn burner with all the top NZ and Aussie Keirin riders.
I drew second wheel behind Shane Perkins which I was very happy with as he had great legs coming off racing in Japan like me. Sam and Matt both attacked early and came over but I stuck to my guns and followed Shane who attacked over the last lap and then I punched it over him around the last corner and crossed the line first. Bloody fantastic.
For now I am tucking into a much needed training block from now until the end of the year. It will be a crucial time as it will help me become stronger in the gym and therefore a reliable team sprint rider and not just a Keirin rider.
Simon van Velthooven
New Zealand Sprint Cyclist
World, Commonwealth, Olympic Medalist
Proud Volkswagen Ambassador