Brendon Sharratt has the small matter of defending his New Zealand cyclocross title before stepping up a gear or two for international competition on two fronts.

The 36-year-old Whanganui spray painter heads to Blenheim this weekend for the New Zealand Cyclocross Championships and safely through that travels to China for an internationally-sanctioned event in early September before tackling the first two events in North America heralding the start of a world series.

Cyclocross is basically cross-country racing on a road bicycle with the main difference the nobbly tyres.

"My preparation for the New Zealand champs has gone very well,' Sharratt said.

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"I've stayed healthy all winter and won seven races in the lead up. The weather doesn't look too good for the weekend, but it is a winter sport and doesn't often get cancelled.
We are racing a venue called Auntsfield, which I think is a vineyard.

"I'm feeling fairly confident, but you never really know who will turn up on the day."

While retaining the national title is certainly high on his agenda, the event in China in is also a major goal.

"I'm going over with Sam Gardner from Palmerston North and a mechanic from Wellington. Sam finished second to me in the nationals last year. Cyclocross can be a teams race, but it is geared more to individual competitors unlike normal road or track cycling events. Sam and I will be travelling as fellow competitors rather than teammates," Sharratt said.

"Our first event is in Beijing starting September 3 with the competition ending in another province on September 6.

"And just recently I've been receiving messages from guys who work for my major sponsor Challenge Tyres, an Italian-based company. They are keen to meet up in Chicago after the Chinese event.

"The first two races in a seven or eight race world series are being held in America - one in Iowa City and the other in Waterloo, Wisconsin. They are between September 8 and September 25. It's far too good an opportunity to miss," Sharratt said.