Elite Cycling Nationals

Brett Grieve 40km TT at Elite Cycling Nationals

This weekend sees the New Zealand Elite Cycling Nationals held in Napier. In the men’s field there is a top level of competition that has never been seen before racing in New Zealand. We have six UCI World Tour professionals (the top tier of professional cycling), with three more riders from Pro Continental teams (the next tier of professional cycling) along with the winners from the last two years and the world U23 Mountain Bike champion. I bet that in a field like that and history showing a high level of DNFs, just finishing this event will be a massive kudos to any rider. Brett finished in 9th place in the 40km Time Trial yesterday and is in his final preparation for the Road Race tomorrow.

QK: Congratulations on your 9th place in the TT. Talk us through the race and how that unfolded.

BG: Thanks Ray. Prior to the TT it was pretty windy with 40kph NE winds which gusted a bit through the hills on the back of the course.  Riding an 808 front is good for speed, but only if you can still stay on the aerobars, so I went for a quiet look-over the back of the course with the deep front wheel.  This recce confirmed the 808 was good.  My warm up was good, and I drank about 800mls on the start line as I chose not to drink during the race.  I felt strong out of the gate and settled into a nice low rhythm.  After 3 minutes my average power was too high at 400w, so I eased up a bit.  I tapped out 470w on the first climb and drove it over the top, recovering on the downhill.  I kept watching my speed and once it was over 50kph I consciously backed off to save energy.  

Just before the climb at 15km in, I heard a tyre blow, but it didn’t go right down.  I lost a bit of time trying to workout which wheel it was, and decided to keep pushing.  It was ok on the next downhill 5 minutes later but after a further 5 minutes I nearly lost control on a 90 degree corner as the front was too soft.  I stopped straight away and by the time I got the 808 off, my support crew of Wayne Jack and niece Laura had the spare right there.  I was off after only 20 seconds or so, and I settled straight back into the work, still feeling strong, and with average power still 374w including the stop.  I knew it was still worth riding for and was happy to be on firm tyres!  

Going up the hill at 25km one of the other elites came past me on his first lap so that helped me go deeper and ride good power over that.  It was starting to hurt a bit more at that point, but due to the technical nature of the course there is time to rest there and focus the power on the short climbs and headwind.  

I did have an issue with brakes as the new wheel was 23mm vs 25mm of the 808 so I had no front brakes and I set my back brakes quite wide so had minimal stopping power.  

With 10km to go I tried to lift, but wasn’t feeling so good and decided it would be better to stay on 370-380w and give a maximal effort on the last climb. That climb I tried to do at 450w, but it was fatiguing and averaged 410w or so.  I definitely gave it full effort and recovered on the way down.  I was nearly caught out by going too fast into a 25kph corner on the final downhill.  I used a motorcycling technique of looking where you want to go and just commit!  It worked and I finished strong.

QK: Just like pro level races there was a Hot Seat that the fastest rider at that point in the day got to sit in. Starting earlier than some of the favourites, you got to enjoy sitting in the Hot Seat for part of the day. What was this experience like?

BG: It was cool.  A Navy mate took a few cheeky pics and Jon Bridges interviewed me.  Yeah, good fun for a mid order rider to get on the stage!  The chair is nice and comfy too!

QK: You had the aim of trying to average 380 Watts for the TT and your Normalised Power was 384. I trust you are happy with that.

BG: Yes, really happy.  I was aiming for 380w average, and got 374w average, but still really happy.  This is my first 40km TT and previously I have only ever done those sorts of numbers over 20 minute periods.

QK: What have you done after the TT and on Saturday to maximise your recovery for the Road Race?

BG: I had lots of water and rice and tuna post TT, and a big meal last night of steak and rice and green vege.  Today I rode for 50km with a couple of hard efforts, and have continued with clean eating and rest.

QK: With lots of climbing in the road race what are your plans to keep the legs fresh till later in the race?

BG: I need to try not to animate things!!  This is a challenge for me, as normally when riding for PKF I’m one of the guys trying to mix it up.  Patience will be important, and luck.  If I’m in a good position I’ll go up the road for sure, follow wheels, but yes, I need to be mindful not to do too much work in the first 100km.  I’ll be tracking average power for the race, and hopefully that won’t be too high at the start.  Elite racing is a smash fest though, and in a big field, sitting down the back guarantees failure.  I’ve taken note of where the hills are and will try and be in good position for them and stay out of trouble.

QK: Finally all the best for the road race. I look forward to looking over your power file tomorrow evening.

BG: Thanks Ray.

Check out the power analysis of Brett Grieve’s 9th place ride in the TT that was published yesterday here:

What it Takes to Ride at the Elite Cycling Nationals

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