Two young Aussie riders are set for one of the biggest races of their lives – the 2023 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships.
Victoria’s Sam Northey, 16, and Tristan Nash, 19, from Western Australia, will line up against the best cyclo-cross riders from across the world on February 4-5 at Hoogerheide in the Netherlands for a shot at claiming a rainbow jersey in the junior men’s and U23’s races.
See how they have been preparing ahead of the World Championships.
TRISTAN NASH, 19
Nash, who claimed silver in the U23’s at the AusCycling CX National Championships in Wollongong last year, has been living and racing in Belgium since November.
There, he has been competing in World Cups and racing in the top cyclo-cross series against the best in the sport including Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock.
“It's been an awesome experience full of invaluable lessons. Getting smashed in a race isn't easy and coming back to do it again the next day is even harder. But one thing that's for sure is if you give up you'll definitely never win,” Nash said.
“This trip was all about gaining experience, so Worlds hasn't been a big target. I was under no illusions and knew I'd be fighting for survival in the top races. That being said I've earnt some good results and look forward to bringing the Aussie spirit to Worlds and giving it all I've got.”
The 19-year-old started racing CX with his dad in 2018 after starting on the track before moving into road cycling, then CX and MTB.
He is looking forward to pulling on the green and gold next Saturday to represent Australia on the world stage.
“It's always been a dream to race in the national kit for Australia,” he said.
“The Hoogerheide course is an all time, it can have sand, mud, stairs, off camber, pinch climbs and crazy fans. The U23 racing is fast and aggressive, I look forward to getting amongst it.”
SAM NORTHEY, 16
The World Championships race is one the 16-year-old from Bright in north-east Victoria, who claimed bronze in U19s at the National Cyclocross Championship in September, appears to be taking in his stride.
“Hopefully I go alright. I’m just looking forward to going over and seeing how I go,” he said.
“There are quite a few stairs in the course apparently – about 42 – which I’m not used to, and there is a sandpit, and we don’t get much of that here,” Northey said of the course.
“My strengths are usually on hills and when it gets really muddy and wet, but that’s in Australian conditions, I’m not sure what it will be like in Europe.”
A keen mountain bike rider, Northey took up cyclo-cross about four years ago.
With the cycling and riding playground of Bright on his doorstep, his preparation in the lead up to Worlds has consisted of some easy kilometres on the road bike, combined with more intense sessions, as well as his other love – mountain biking at Mystic Mountain Bike Park. He has also spent the summer racing the Alpine Cycling Club Dirt Crit races.
“They are short, and sharp. It’s on a pretty quick course and not easy so helps with practice,” he said.
He has also been trying to ride early in the morning in preparation for the cold conditions of a European winter.
Northey got his first taste of international racing at a CX development trip to Japan in December.
It was a successful trip for Northey who came away with two second place results from two races.
It capped off a solid 2022 for the Alpine Cycling Club member who consistently placed in the top three of his races.
He won the Junior title at the CX Victorian State Championships, finished second in U17 XC Marathon National Championships, and third in U17 XCO at Nationals in Maydena last year.
No doubt, the World Championships will be a big step up for the Year 11 student, but it is one that gets him closer to achieving his dream.
“I’d like to go to World Cup races for XC and cyclo-cross in the future,” he said.
There is no rest for the youngster when he returns to Australia who will head straight to the AusCycling Mountain Bike National Championships at Thredbo.
He will compete in the cross-country short course and Olympic races.
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