With one Enduro World Series campaign under his belt, Cole Lucas is ready to launch an attack on the 2019 edition of the global event.
The 20-year-old, who is originally from Hamilton but has been based in Rotorua during the last few years, finished third in the under-21 division of the series last year. This year he is stepping up to the elite division, but showed recently he has what it takes to compete with the top riders.
He won the three-round Giant 2W Gravity Enduro series held in Rotorua between October and February. However, disappointingly for the young athlete, a timing error meant he did not get his moment atop the podium.
Timing issues and miscalculation by organisers meant Rotorua's Daniel Self was crowned the series winner, when in fact Lucas was faster.
A post on the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro Facebook page said: "The final 2W event of the series on Saturday was hampered by significant timing issues and a subsequent miscalculation of the overall standings in the men's series title category.
"Our team are already working on putting a system in place to produce a more reliable results platform for next season. In the meantime, we would like to make the correction that your overall men's series champion for the 2018/19 season is Mr Cole Lucas.
"Our sincere apologies to all the riders affected and in particular to Cole who missed his opportunity to stand on top of the podium in front of his peers and fellow competitors."
Lucas was disappointed about the oversight, but pleased with how he performed. Moving up to the elite division this year, it showed him he could at least compete with established EWS riders such as Rotorua's Keegan Wright, Sam Shaw and Daniel Self.
"I asked to see the mistake because I think they just didn't add all the times up and they couldn't show me anything. It was pretty unprofessional really, I paid to enter all the events and put in the effort, they could at least add all the times up. I had to add up the times myself and tell them they had made a mistake.
"The series itself was really good. [In round three] I got a new bike before the race and got second, so that is hopefully a good sign of things to come, with more time on the bike."
The first race of this year's Enduro World Series is being held in the Whakarewarewa Forest on March 24 during Crankworx Rotorua.
"It's awesome having the first race of the year at home, it's a big advantage knowing the terrain and feeling comfortable."
After Rotorua, EWS events are held all over the world, including Australia, Portugal, Italy, France, Canada, America and Switzerland. Yet to secure sponsorship or funding to complete the whole series, Lucas was aiming to compete at six of the eight rounds.
"Obviously, this year I'm moving into elite, so I'll have to step it up a notch. I'll be racing against some of the people I look up to - you've got to make that step up at some point and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where I sit with everyone else.
"Last year was pretty much my first season doing a full enduro season and I learned a lot. Mainly about keeping consistent and not crashing because one crash can kind of ruin your whole weekend. It's about finding the right limit but not being too conservative."
He said racing all over the world was an amazing experience.
"We got to go to Chile and Columbia at the start of the year, I'd never been there before. This year I'm hoping to push towards the top 20 consistently. Comparing my times from last year I'd be in about the 30s, so it'd be nice to try and push that top 20.
"I think I've gained a bit more knowing how to race better and understanding of how the whole EWS works."