FROM THE SOUTHLAND TIMES
You could be forgiven for thinking Southlander Andy Hughson had fallen off the cycling radar.
A highly promising mountainbiker at schoolboy level, the now- 21-year-old was a New Zealand under-17 mountainbiking representative and a reserve for the New Zealand team at the Rotorua world championships before electing to mothball his cycling career to study engineering.
During the past three years he has been based in Dunedin, where he has been completing a cadetship with Fulton Hogan that involved working four days a week with one day of study.
Intent on giving cycling another go, Hughson has been given a year's unpaid leave by Fulton Hogan to head to the United States and ride for the newly formed Team NZ pro cycling team managed by James Canny.
The team includes Southlanders Eddie Dawkins, Hamish Presbury and Pieter Bulling, as well as Adam Stewart, Simon van Velthooven, Aaron Gate and Sam Steele.
"I took it reasonably far with the mountainbiking side of things but I possibly hadn't progressed as far with the road and track as I could have," Hughson said.
"I guess James has given me this opportunity to give it a nudge at another level."
Hughson said he had watched the likes of Southlanders Ashley Whitehead, on the road, and Marcus Roy, on the mountainbike, develop careers in Europe while he opted to study, and now he was looking forward to his turn.
"I won't be going over there with as good a form as the likes of Simon van Velthooven, but hopefully within the first month ... with professional riders should change things."