At this time of year, you'll find Sam Osborne mastering the perfect brew at the Planet Bike cafe near the Whakarewarewa Forest, but during the rest of the year you're likely to find him standing on podiums.

This year was another stellar one for the Rotorua triathlete who successfully defended his Asia/Pacific Xterra title, finishing third at the Xterra World Championship in Maui and taking silver at the Cross Triathlon World Championships in Denmark. He was also a finalist for Sportsman of the Year at the Bay of Plenty Sports Awards.

Osborne said, overall, it was his best year of racing yet.

"Everything was pretty consistent, I only missed a podium once, maybe twice. I struggled a bit at the end, in Europe, but every time we had something I was targeting we came out firing and nailed the big races."

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He said second at the Cross Triathlon World Championships was a "massive" highlight.

"Second at a world champs in anything is huge and winning Xterra Rotorua is always special, too. It would be nice to have more of the internationals come and take me on my own course.

Rotorua's Sam Osborne is enjoying some down time after an impressive year of racing. Photo / Ben Fraser
Rotorua's Sam Osborne is enjoying some down time after an impressive year of racing. Photo / Ben Fraser

"Next year there should be more because we've got Taiwan the weekend before, so for them it makes a lot more sense to do Taiwan and Rotorua then head back home."

He said the competition at Xterra events was stronger every year and he spent a lot of his time between races training with one of his biggest rivals, world champion South African Bradley Weiss.

"We originally got together last year because we each identified our own weaknesses and they were pretty much opposite. Not that we were really weak in them, but they were areas we were losing races.

"For me it was mainly my mountain biking. My swim and my run are pretty solid, but how well I ride a bike and the damage it does to my legs will sometimes affect my run as well.

"Last year, I don't believe I showed the form I was in, but this year in Maui my mountain biking was much, much better than it had been previously and it showed. To come off the bike in third place at a world champs is not easy to do.

Sam Osborne charges to a win at Xterra Rotorua. Photo / File
Sam Osborne charges to a win at Xterra Rotorua. Photo / File

"A lot of the overseas [mountain bike trails] are nowhere as technical as what we have here in the forest, so really just by riding around here and having fun you get really good technically. What was eye opening for me was how much intensity some of those other guys do on the bike.

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"I think we have a pretty good plan in place, Brad [Weiss] won world champs last year and we were second and third and this year. It doesn't get too competitive during training which is why I think it works, we've always said it's about building form not showing form."

While enjoying his off season, Osborne is already working on how to do even better next year.

"I do enjoy being back home at the shop, I actually love making coffees and catching up with people. A lot of them follow everything I do overseas with great interest and to come back and talk to them about it is really humbling, it's important to stay grounded.

"Finishing second and third at the two world champs this year, I would love to turn those to firsts. They both feel incredibly achievable too, it's not like number one was way ahead, I was always well in the run, so I think on my day, with the right preparation, I can most definitely do it."