Date: Friday, 02 February 2024

2/02/2024 - It’s pouring down outside and the temperature is barely double figures, but Nick Kergozou will still be on a training ride today giving himself the best chance possible of making it to the Olympics later this year. 

This isn’t where the 27-year-old Southlander was planning to be, literally or figuratively. 

Ideally he’d be in Adelaide with the Cycling NZ team for the UCI Nations Cup, one of three final qualifying events for this year’s world championships and the Paris Olympics. 

Despite being part of the men’s team pursuit squad which won bronze at the world championships in Glasgow last year, Kergozou missed selection for Adelaide, instead taking the opportunity to return to his roots over the past week - competing in the Gore to Invercargill Classic road race and his first ILT New Years Carnival in 10 years at the SIT Velodrome. 

“Obviously Olympic selection is the priority,” Kergozou says. 

“It’s a bit of a hurdle not being in Adelaide but there will be other opportunities for selection with Hong Kong coming up and a road tour in Thailand.” 

Kergozou knows disappointment. He won world championship silver with the team pursuit in 2017 and bronze in 2023, but was a non-travelling reserve for the Rio Olympics and a travelling reserve at Tokyo’s rescheduled Games in 2021. 

“At the time the disappointment was pretty big,” Kergozou says of watching from the sidelines in Tokyo. 

“They say the (travelling) reserve is the hardest, because you haven’t made the team but you haven’t missed out entirely. You can’t switch off, you can’t drop your intensity. It’s rewarding in a way because even a day out I was still doing efforts with the boys. Mentally it’s a challenging role, it’s hard but it can shape you too - if you can tolerate that, you can tolerate anything.” 

Kergozou has reason to be optimistic about his Olympic dream. 

There’s never been a question about his top end power - he hasn’t won multiple New Zealand 1000m time trial titles by accident - but a heavy racing block at the back end of 2023 probably left him a bit overdone. 

A big racing schedule in China, followed by a successful SBS Bank Tour of Southland - where he claimed his first stage win and third sprint jersey - saw him complete about 32 race days over a six week period, the most he’d ever done. 

That was followed by a national camp, and eventually saw him miss the cut with Nelson’s Keegan Hornblow and Waikato’s Dan Bridgwater joining world championship medallists Aaron Gate, Tom Sexton and Campbell Stewart in Adelaide. 

“I know where I need to be. (My) performances at Glasgow worlds - I think I nailed the expectations for the starting role,” he says. 

“You can’t peak for everything and I probably needed a bigger break, but you live and you learn. I know I can turn that around pretty quickly, so that’s the encouraging thing.” 

A graduate of SBS Bank Academy Southland (2024/15), Kergozou has been able to spend time training and racing alongside current Academy cyclists Marshall Erwood and Magnus Jamieson over the past couple of weeks. 

“These young guys, guys like Marshall are showing so much potential and there’s a real pathway for them. (Magnus) has got a good kick on him on the track and we did a few efforts together on the road and the amount of watts he can put out is pretty impressive.” 

Track racing aside, Kergozou is excited about continuing to ride on the road in Asia with the St George Continental Cycling Team, which includes fellow Southlander Tom Sexton and his coach and Cycling NZ performance scientist Boris Clark. 

Beyond 2024, the future is open. He has been part of the national cycling system for the best part of a decade and has enjoyed the lifestyle. He has also continued his studies and will graduate with a Bachelor in Communications this year, before embarking on a post graduate degree in business studies. 

As a sideline he restores boats on a rural property just out of Cambridge, taking pride in bringing the paintwork back to mint condition. 


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