While already well known in Rotorua and most of New Zealand as a local speedster, Keegan Wright really pedalled his way into the spotlight in 2017.

From momentous national wins to an international tour with a professional racing team, it was a breakout year for the 21-year-old Rotorua mountain biker.

Having won the New Zealand Enduro overall in 2016, he started 2017 with a bang, winning the Downhill National Cup series overall, the New Zealand Elite Downhill National Championship and the Crankworx Rotorua Pump Track Challenge, in front of a home crowd chanting his name.

His hard work during the last few years, racing whenever possible while working as a building apprentice, paid off when he was signed by Cycles Devinci to race in the Enduro World Series.

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While a series of mechanical issues, such as flat tyres, restricted him to 42nd overall, Wright said racing in Enduro events all over the world was a dream come true.

"It's probably been one of my better years, winning national champs and getting on a pro team. I went to Portugal, Ireland, France, Italy, America, Canada, it was awesome. Being able to see the world and ride your bike is pretty lucky, but I've done a lot of training which has paid off, I've worked for it.

"I've been racing for about 12 years and I've always been a competitive person, going over there was the next step," he said.

With the 2017 Enduro World Series under his belt, Rotorua's Keegan Wright is looking forward to seeing what he can achieve in 2018. Photo / Ben Fraser
With the 2017 Enduro World Series under his belt, Rotorua's Keegan Wright is looking forward to seeing what he can achieve in 2018. Photo / Ben Fraser

He was determined to make 2018 "an even better year".

"I'd like to get some top 10s in the Enduro World Series overall and if I can try and win that'd be great. Obviously you are always trying to win, sometimes luck goes your way, sometimes it doesn't, but I definitely feel like I'm capable of winning it."

He said the level of competition in the world series was a big step up, as he raced against top riders such as this year's winner Sam Hill, of Australia, who has won multiple downhill world titles and two-time world series champion Richie Rude, of America, who is a former junior downhill world champion.

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"Some of the countries these guys are in, the sponsors and stuff are on their doorstep, the sponsors go to them at a young age. So it's cool to be from New Zealand and get a pro deal and try to get seen, because we're kind of tucked away in our own corner of the world.

Keegan Wright (right) won the Crankworx Rotorua Pump Track Challenge in 2017. Photo / File
Keegan Wright (right) won the Crankworx Rotorua Pump Track Challenge in 2017. Photo / File

"I ride bikes because I love it, but getting a pro deal is the pinnacle - being able to wake up in the morning and be able to train and concentrate on my riding is what I've always wanted. It's awesome, I'm over the moon, absolutely stoked.

"I pretty much just need to do what I did this year but take it to the next level and keep training hard. I need to be a bit more organised with my training and a bit more professional."

Wright said enduro races gave him the opportunity to test his boundaries.

"I like downhill as well, but I like being able to go out there and push my body to the limits. Enduro requires you having the physical ability to get up all the stages, you're out there for an eight-hour day as opposed to one run on a downhill track.

"I like the training aspect as well, seeing what you can get out of your body. I'm racing guys aged 30-35 who are at their peak, whereas I'm still learning what I can do and what's good for me."