SIMON VAN VELTHOOVEN
Denton Park, Christchurch
The New Year has brought some great results and good fortune at the Denton Park track racing in early January and also the last Track Cycling World Cup in Guadalajara.
It was a great pleasure to be able to race at Denton Park because you hardly ever seem to be able to ‘relax’ during any racing and enjoy yourself with the others around you.
The Christchurch Carnival is superbly run and offers emerging NZ riders a great chance to compete with current National riders and see how they measure up.
The majority of the year the National team is overseas or in serious training camps in either Invercargill or Cambridge so we rarely get a chance to race casually on home soil and have some fun. As always the Keirin was hard fought for by all of the riders. On the Friday night I came away with the win and on the Saturdaynight was runner up to the big Ed Dawkins. We also managed to break the flying-start 1km scratch race record in an elapsed time of 57.7 seconds which is fair hauling outdoors on a sticky concrete track!
World Cup, Guadalajara
From the racing in Christchurch I moved back to Cambridge for our final preparation into the last World Cup of the season in yet again the wild west of a country- Mexico. This time we were in Guadalajara which was slightly south of the border and maybe 200m less altitude. However this city was just as crazy as the last, the Mexicans here were just as short and suave, and there was definitely more taco stalls than Coffee shops.
In this World Cup I had a full program again with the Team Sprint, on the first day riding in a new combination of Matt Archibald and Sam Webster followed by the Keirin and Kilo TT on the second day of competition.
The Team Sprint went well with each of us laying down winning times for our laps but it just didn’t click on race day and we had to settle for 5th place, 0.15 of a second behind the winners. Yea it’s close in track cycling… Some would ask you measure that difference? We have timing strips on the track as well as individual sensors on our frames that record exactly where we are.
Unfortunately the program has not been changed yet again so I was competing in both of my favoured events on the same day.
The Keirin went well with both Ed and I winning our heats comfortably and progressing to the finals later in the evening, however before the Keirin finals I had the nasty 60 seconds of pain which they call the Kilometre Time Trial. I felt good traveling back to the track for the nights racing but for some reason I didn’t get a good start and the gear I chose just didn’t feel ‘fast’ and I had to settle for 4th – 6 tenths of a second slower than the winner… Another close call.
I do like being one of the two top ranked Kilo riders in the World and very much enjoy being last seeded and seeing everybody else ride before me but when your ‘king of pain’ kilo is only 15 minutes before the Keirin semi-final it does frustrate you a little bit because you just can’t recover and perform at your absolute best. It was great to come out again an hour and half later in the B final and win in great style in front of the crazy Mexican fans.
Build up to Cali
For now we are back in Cambridge again training for the Track Cycling World Championships in Cali, Colombia. It is great to be back in the high performance squad with fellow Olympians such as Aaron Gate and Marc Ryan. The amount of inspiration we get off each other in training sessions is second to none because we all have the World Title and Olympic Glory in our eyes and feed every session leading into the Worlds as if it were Dooms Day. Leading into the World Champs I am finally hitting numbers I should have been back in late November. Secretly I can let you know (just don’t go telling the Germans or Brits) because I know you all love pushing your bodies to the max and getting a decent hit of endorphins everyday… I managed to Back-Squat 200kg to a 40cm height, and 240kg to 52cm and Hang-Clean 100kg.
I am looking ahead to the World Champs and a well-deserved rest in the month of March. However if you are in the Waikato over the weekend of the 13th-16th of March we will be competing here at the new velodrome for our countries National titles. Come along, it’ll be a great watch!
Simon van Velthooven
New Zealand Sprint Cyclist
World, Commonwealth, Olympic Medalist
Proud Volkswagen Ambassador