Dusting off the passport for the first time this year marked the start of the international season for yours truly, and my first World Cup race of the season across the ditch in New Plymouth, NZ. Flanked by a strong Aussie contingent, including another D Wilson, the superbly mustached Declan, we were taking on a field with more hitters than a T20 tournament.
Taranaki seemed prepared to dish out some malevolent conditions, with the days prior being windier than a bathroom at a baked bean convention, however race day delivered meteorological vicissitude, with nary a puff of air to be had. The swim was the usual mix of freestyle and beating the bejeezus out of each other, and I managed to land terrestrial with my head largely intact and in the short lived front group, which soon became a rolling bunch of around 40. Testing the legs up the hill out of lap 1, I was mildly surprised to find the reason no-one was responding to my invitations to roll through, was that I had opened a small gap on the bunch, soon to be joined by Irishman Ben Shaw. Teeth set firmly upon stem, we grafted out a 25-30 second gap on our erstwhile companions over the remaining 15kms into T2. Onto the run, and I led until the Spanish Armada of Gomez and Mola came charging past like they were late to return their library books.
My legs stung a bit from tasting too much wind on the bike, but I held together nicely for 9th, a decent start to the World Cup campaign for 2014. Special mention to Kung Fu Sexton, who stomped through for 5th, and looks to be the goods after a tough year last year. Next race the level steps up again, to the World Series in Auckland, where hopefully I can take more than modicum of form to one of the toughest courses on tour. It’ll be a decisive race for the Aus Commonwealth Games team, so tickets to Glasgow could well be stamped in 2 weeks.
Take care friends,