Despite arriving home in Alexandra with a haul of medals from the Junior World Track Cycling Championships in Glasgow, there will be no rest for New Zealand cyclist Liam Aitcheson.
Aitcheson arrived back in the country on Friday after four months of training abroad and competing at the world champs.
At the champs Aitcheson won three silver medals in the team pursuit, points and the 120-lap madison race as part of the New Zealand team.
And it was straight back on the bike at the weekend at the Benchmark Home Series road race in Queenstown to begin training for the Tour of Southland and the Oceania Track Cycling Champs in November.
Training in Belgium proved to be an eye-opener for Aitcheson, who will no longer be able to ride as a junior next year and will compete for a place on the New Zealand team in the elite squad.
"I was racing for a junior racing team in Belgium. It's a lot bigger and there is more of a focus on cycling."
In New Zealand races might attract between 40 to 50 participants. Races in Belgium would easily attract 200 riders, Aitcheson said.
Riding on cobbled and narrow roads also made training and competing interesting.
"The racing is definitely a lot harder . . . It's a different style of racing.
"The small roads meant there was less room for all of the people in a race. It's so important to be up the front," he said.
From here Aitcheson will be training for a spot on the elite squad at the New Zealand Elite Nationals being held in Cambridge in March.
"That will decide everything. It's quite a big step up. It's going to be a lot harder. So many more people will be competing," he said.
For now he will be hitting the pavement and track in Alexandra and Christchurch to train intensively six days a week in a bid to reach his goal of making the squad.
- Article courtesy The Mirror / The Southland Times