The past year has been a learning curve for Nick Kergozou De La Boessiere, and the highs and lows have prepared him for what will be the biggest year on his bike yet.
The 19-year-old Southland cyclist admits his fast-paced rise through the New Zealand cycling ranks has taken him by surprise, and now he is ready for the challenges that await as he prepares for a permanent move to Cambridge.
Kergozou De La Boessiere recently returned from Europe where he rode with the New Zealand national team, competing across a range of races including the prestigious eight-stage An Post Ras Tour of Ireland which produce good team results.
Along with quality racing, he was introduced to European cobblestones by Belgium-based Invercargill cyclists Josh Haggerty and Matt Zenovich, got his first taste of kermesse cycling and lapped up as much international experience as he could.
"This year alone has been pretty eye opening," he said.
"Getting to Europe and racing there – I didn't even think that would have been possible at the start of the year, but I've been riding with a great group of guys who have really helped me out and it's been awesome to step up and take the opportunities."
While it's been valuable road experience, Kergozou De La Boessiere says it's all training for the track – where he's eyeing a more permanent place within Cycling New Zealand's elite team.
"Training will start now for the Oceania Track Championships, which are in Invercargill in October. I'll be looking to hit those pretty hard and hopefully get selected for the first World Cup meet in Cali in November," he said.
Although he has had multiple highlights over the past year – including a bronze medal at last year's UCI World Junior Track Championships – Kergozou De La Boessiere admits he's learnt more from disappointments than anything else.
"We came back from junior worlds not meeting our goals, and then the World Cup in Cali didn't quite go as we planned either, but then everything seemed to come together for nationals. I smashed PBs and as a team we had great performances," he said.
Kergozou De La Boessiere has been part of the highly successful Academy Southland programme and says his learnings from that have been invaluable in preparing him for the step up to the elite ranks.
"It gave me such a great base in terms of nutrition, sports psychology and strength and conditioning and showed me how to control my own future and lead that," he said.
"It is a massive step moving from junior to elite, but there is good support especially in your second year as a junior, and what I learnt through Academy Southland definitely helped with that transition."
While he will now be based permanently in Cambridge, he's quick to acknowledge the Southland support that got him to this point, particularly that of his coach Julian Ineson, who has coached him since he was in Year 6, and Murray Bateman who contributed a lot to his success last year.
Photo and article courtesy The Southland Times