Mountain Biking: World-class endurance

By Stuart Whitaker

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Tristan Haycock at the last year's 24 Hours of Nduro cycling event at Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua.
Tristan Haycock at the last year's 24 Hours of Nduro cycling event at Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua.

Expectations were high, but coach Chris Willett didn't really think two of his charges would pick up world mountain bike titles in Rotorua at the weekend.

But at the World Endurance Mountain Biking 24 Hour World Championship in Redwoods Forest, Tauranga Boys' College student Tristan Haycock won the under-23 title and Tauranga's Tim Mills the 35-39 age group crown.

"Tristan is only 17 so to win the under-23s, he is ahead of where we expected him to be in this genre of riding. To ride for that length of time as a 17-year-old is almost unheard of," said Willett. "For him to pull through and beat some quality riders internationally is really special."

Preparing for the event has taken 12 months.

"We sat down probably a year ago and he outlined what he wanted to do and I thought he was crazy to want to do that being so young. We've done a lot of strength work then slowly built up the time on the bike but again, because he's so young, you can't do too much because he's still growing and he's got all the other commitments around school."

Mills has more of a pedigree in endurance mountain biking and has previously won a 24-hour endurance race.

"He's a busy guy with a family, so you couldn't say he had copious amounts of time to train, but he went into it with a really smart plan and just rode to that and kept on going.

"Going in they both had a reasonably high level of expectation, but we didn't think we would come away with two world championships out of it."

Looking ahead, Haycock is planning on defending the 24-hour title in Italy next year, but in the short term he has to make the necessary adjustments to compete at the national cross country championships in Wanaka in three week's time.

"We've got a plan to get him recovered and to see if we can have him firing at nationals," Willett said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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