PREPARED: Dan Warren will ensure his bike is in tip-top shape for tomorrow.PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWNIn almost 20 years of road cycling before this I had never won a national title. Dan Warren, bike mechanic Come October it will take a phenomenal effort to take the Tour of the Bay Funride 110km cycling title off Hawke's Bay's Dan Warren.
Thanks to his passion for a new sport, cyclocross, Warren, 30, will be a lot stronger and fitter in October than he was at last year's Caltex Tour of the Bay. After winning the Queenstown-hosted nationals in his first attempt last weekend it isn't surprising Warren is buzzing about the sport, which for the uninitiated can be best described as a mix of mountainbiking and cross-country cycling.
"The nationals was only my third race in cyclocross," said Warren who won a race in the Hawke's Bay series the previous weekend and finished second in a Wellington series race in his debut in the sport.
"The bloke I finished second to in Wellington is the guy I beat at the nationals," said Warren referring to Alex Revell.
Warren was the only Hawke's Bay rider in the nationals field, which included Rotorua's best mountainbiker Mark Leishman and Single Speed World Champion Garth Weinberg. Warren secured pole position with a 7m35s hot lap time over a 2.6km circuit.
His winning time for the event which involved riding, running, pushing and bike-carrying was 1hr10m48s.
"Once underway I sat on second's wheel and when we came up to the first hill I got overtaken by Alex. I managed to just get in front before the tricky downhill which I didn't expect to be good on and surprisingly got a bit of a lead," recalled Warren.
"I managed to pull a gap, then each lap I got a few more seconds. Coming into the final lap I had just on two minutes lead, so I had time to take it a bit easier and savour in the moment," said The Hub bike mechanic.
"In almost 20 years of road cycling before this I had never won a national title."
Revell beat Leishman by 13 seconds in the battle for second.
Warren is full of praise for the training he has received from former Great Britain cyclocross team coach Carl Paton who is a lecturer at EIT.
He predicts cyclocross will take off big time in Hawke's Bay.
"We have so many mountainbikers and road cyclists. I believe a lot of them will do this winter sport as a form of cross training.
"Because there's plenty of mud, snow and ice involved spectators will love it and it will be good for youngsters too," said Warren who will tackle another round in the Wellington series tomorrow.
Being a new national champion Warren knows he will be a marked man in Wellington.
He will then have another two rounds in the Hawke's Bay series before competing in the September North Island championships in Wellington.
The next Hawke's Bay cyclocross race will be held on July 24 at the Eskdale Mountainbike Park.