It’s been a very, very busy last few weeks with many air miles clocked up and jet lagged battled head-on.
In early July, after finishing racing in Europe, we had a 5 day GP in Adelaide where we had a number of sucesses and really stuck it to the Malaysians and Australians. I had a podium place on the first day with a great win on the 3rd day in the Keirin, collecting even more points and I am now fully qualified for the World Cup season. My team mates also performed well, while we had a number of wins in the Match Sprint and an additional Keirin.
SIMON VAN VELTHOOVEN
Adelaide GP – taking the win
Success in Japan
From Adelaide, I flew directly to Narita Airport and through to Shuzenji to begin preparation for my first race back in the Japanese Keirin season. The city that contracted Andrii Vynokorov and I, was Ichnomiya, about 20 minutes out of Nagoya. I was very nervous coming back to race with the expectation to win after being away in UCI racing. The first day went well winning my heat after leading out for 600 metres. However, on the second day I crossed the line in second after another convincing lead-out. I was all smiles as I came in off the track, but was immediately informed that I had a ‘Shikaku’. Shikaku means relagation, a disqualification and an hour to leave the velodrome as you are banished. I was gutted; the technicality was tiny and occurred in the first 30 metres before the race had even begun! Leaving that velodrome was a little depressing. I wanted to fulfill my expectations and win!
I quickly reviewed what I did wrong, put that disappointment behind me, and looked towards my next race in southern Tokyo in the city of Hiratsuka. I was excited to race there as I was with the Australians and we were keen to have a clean ANZAC sweep. On the first day we all qualified through with the semi final also going well, finishing with a second place after a huge battle with the strongest Japanese rider in the tournament. He rode a monster gear. Imagine sprinting on a gear slightly bigger than what you find on your average road bike.
The Aussies qualified as well and we were excited for the final and hatched some ambitious tactics to achieve the best result. Since I was the youngest, in Japanese tradition, I had to do all the ‘hard work’ and lead out my fellow elder internationals for their shot at glory. I was perfectly fine with this as after being in Japan so long and I do look forward to cups of tea being made for me in the future as well as younger riders leading me out! I had a few extra coffees before the start and went absolutely mental in my lead out and delivered the Aussies in the best position to win in true ANZAC style. They finished in first and second place, making the punters very happy as well with millions of Yen bet on them finishing in the first two places. Job well done!
There’s nothing better than seeing a happy punter, who has made money off you, from going flat out and putting your body on the line. My good form continued up to the latest race I have just had in Ogaki, also near Nagoya. After winning my heat I drew some famous names for my Semi and had to race an Athens Silver medalist and very experienced rider. I smashed them, but only after being absolutely terrified on the start line!
In the final, being the youngest, I had to lead out again but this time it was for the French rider Francois Pervis. He continued on to win comfortably so it was another job well done!The hard training and racing has paid off and I am excited to do even more training and racing in preparation for the World Cup season. Progression is addictive. And I know we have all heard the saying- ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll only get what you’ve always got’.
We are always looking for different ways to train and chasing those marginal gains, if you don’t you will get stuck in a massive rut and become a grumpy old athlete that won’t adjust to change.
London 2012 – 1 year ago
On brighter note, it was one year ago I won bronze at the 2012 London Olympic games. Funny how time goes by so fast. Making my Olympic debut, securing a medal and sharing the podium with Chris Hoy, Maxmillian Levy and Teun Mulder is something I will always remember. Here’s to three more years. Better train harder- faster- and smarter to get that Gold #2016!
Talk again soon
Simon van Velthooven
New Zealand Sprint Cyclist
World, Commonwealth, Olympic Medalist
Proud Volkswagen Ambassador