SIMON VAN VELTHOOVEN
World Cup Season
A major part of our long road to the 2016 Rio Olympics began on the 7th of October with a training camp ahead of the Manchester World Cup held early November. These training camps are very serious as specific riders are chosen for each event from out of these camps and therefore everyone is expected to be fighting fit and firing on all cylinders.
Russians or ‘Rush-ins’ which is the correct term, are our favourite team effort to carry out as it combines a mixture of all the training we do in one effort. Between 4-6 of us loop the top of the track gathering speed then rip it up down the front straight nearing 80kph when riders 1-3-5 swing up mid bend leaving riders 2-4-6 to chase each other and race the next 200 odd metres to the finish line rarely getting under 75kph. Of course there is some argy bargy in these efforts so you need to keep a clear head because any sudden movements when somebody touches you can easily mean it’s all over.
During one of our training days the classy old men (that head down to invercargill for the week of the ‘Burt Munroe Challenge’) come into the Velo and check out what we do with the motorbike. Now our chase bike doesn’t excite them very much but when they see it ripping around at 90kph with us glued to the back wheel it does raise their eyebrows somewhat. It’s pretty cool having these people there because they actually come into pits and see the bikes for themselves, see how they are made, how they work and then see us in action at warp speed.
Another day like this was when V8 supercar driver Rick Kelly came in for a ride after having a day on the new Highland Park race track in Cromwell. It was cool strapping his feet to the pedals, then forcing him onto the track at 50kph and pushing straight up the track to the fence. We got him to do a flying lap after an afternoon of practice but he was quite disappointed when we had to tell him it was pretty shit even for a rookie.
Manchester World Cup
The events I was chosen to ride for the World Cup were Match Sprint and Keirin. I was also riding under the new HPSNZ trade team which allowed us to ride additional people in the events with restricted entries placed on each country or team. Unfortunately during the Keirin I was sick as and the Sprint, moderately sick.
Invercargill International UCI GP
Keirin- final, led the Dawk out for a win
Sprint- 3rd, qualified 6th but rode through the rounds as I am good racer and back myself to win whoever I am racing
This event is one of the most valuable in our racing calendar because of the large number of UCI points available and the winner of each event has automatic entry to the World Championships.
Each of us compete in all the events as it is a good chance to gain experience amongst the fierce racing, as well as gaining all the crucial points.
Team Sprint comprised of Ethan Mitchell starting, then myself at man-two, and young Tom Beadle finishing up. In the mornings qualifications, we rode well and were a competing team. However in the final, later that night between 3rd/4th, one of our mechanics mistakenly put on the wrong rear sprocket for Tom which meant he hit his optimal cadence much too early and ‘blew up’ during his lap. This gave the bronze to the other Australian team. Fortunately our top NZ team came home with a win against the top Australian team by a couple of thousandths of a second!
The Kilometre Time Trial is a brutal event that is a true test of training and preparation because there is no race tactics or cunningness involved. It is just an all-out full gas minute long sprint that can leave you immobile for more than half an hour after completing. Every rider knows the destructive beauty of the event and we all miss it from the Olympic Programme.
To me the Kilo is just a test to see how tough I am and how well I’ve trained throughout the year. Because it’s off the Olympic programme, we no longer put any time into doing specific training for it. I just hope one day it’ll come together for me on race day at the World Titles and come away with a win.
At the Oceania Champs it all came together for me that evening because I was warmed up and primed from competing in the team sprints earlier in the day. I was last up after seeing my Japanese Keirin teammate Scott Sunderland ride a PB of 1.01.2 so I was fired to drop it all out there in front of a home crowd. After crossing the line and looking up at the board and seeing I had ridden a standing Kilometre in 1.00.726 I was a very happy chappy. It was a new NZ record and a very good time considering how early the season was.
In the Keirin, as a team we targeted a win in this event because of the automatic qualifications. I was feeling good in the heats but in the evening during the semi’s, the last week of racing caught up with me and I just couldn’t fire like I usually do. We came close to the victory in the final but the young Australian Matt Glatzer was just too strong.
Mexico World Cup
This World Cup Campaign started off well with some impressive times laid down at Oceanias and the week before flying out. However, on the way over we had a very tight flight turn around and missed one flight from Mexico City to Aguascalientes meaning we all got a hotel at 1am and were up again at 5am for the first flight out at 7am. My good luck from this trip continued with my bag being the only one not to arrive out of the teams 55 items and it didn’t arrive at the hotel until the day before we left which also was my birthday… Great present! Fresh undies and socks.
Once we arrived at the hotel, we were advised not to drink the water but that didn’t stop 99% having crook guts the whole week, you just couldn’t avoid it unless you only ate deep fried food.
Sprint- New 200m Pb of 9.80
Unfortunately the Keirin and the Kilo TT were on the same day in the same session, this meant I was going to have to spread my energy over the whole day and not be able to deliver everything into one ride. It was good however to be the first kiwi to crack the sub-1min barrier for a standing Kilo but I knew I had a 57 sec Kilo in me, after all the times in training and such. My main competition did not do both events and just targeted one or the other so it was a bit frustrating to do both and not get a prime result in one or the other.
After a turbulent year of many highs and lows, I am looking forward to Christmas and the New Year which I hope will bring some new challenges. Good luck to everyone in the New Year and please set yourself some goals that scare you and make sure you write them down!
Simon van Velthooven
New Zealand Sprint Cyclist
World, Commonwealth, Olympic Medalist
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