International track and road cyclist Corbin Strong is back home in Otatara after competing in 11 countries this year.
The 19-year-old has been tripping all over the world riding for the New Zealand elite squad and the Sydney-based St George Continental Cycling Team. Before flying from Vancouver to Invercargill this week, Strong had worked out he had spent only eight nights at home since Christmas.
"It's been an incredible year," he said.
"I enjoy it [top level cycling], I'm loving the lifestyle and feel lucky to get these opportunities."
Riding at the World Championships in Poland (February 27-March 3) and in the Tour de Korea (June 12-16) provided Strong with the biggest thrills.
Strong was riding in Bundaberg, Queensland, in February when told he might be needed to replace an injured rider in the NZ elite team bound for Poland. The Cycling NZ official told Strong to continue with his own schedule but be ready to jump on a plane, if needed.
He was back in Otatara for 10 hours when a text came through at 5.45am informing him he was booked on plane leaving Invercargill in three hours.
"It was an awesome opportunity to race with the elite team," Strong said.
"It was a big step up being an 18-year-old at the World Championships."
Corbin Strong celebrates a win at the track nationals in Cambridge earlier this year.
Several months earlier Strong had finished his education at Southland Boys' High School.
His form in the Tour de Korea was impressive with him winning the under-23 jersey, placing third in two stages and finishing fifth overall.
"It was quite a big race and it got me noticed by the big European teams."
He is in discussions with a few European teams about riding for them in the future.
Strong is spending three weeks in Invercargill before heading to Cambridge for an elite squad training camp. In August and September he plans to compete in Indonesia and Japan.
Later in the year Strong will be competing in the Oceania Track Championships at the Invercargill velodrome (October) and the Tour of Southland (November).
"My main focus now is do what I can to get into the Olympic team [for Tokyo 2020]."
Strong's parents, Alan and Raewyn Strong, have watched a lot of his overseas races live on the internet.
"He loves what he's doing ... it is exciting," Raewyn said.
Article courtesy Stuff