Rangitoto College year 13 student Hannah Gumbley is one of six cyclists preparing to take on the world next month at the UCI World Junior Road Racing Championships in the USA.
Hannah, along with New Zealand team mates Georgia Catterick (Marlborough Girls’ College), Mikayla Harvey (Mt Aspiring College), Sam Dobbs (Hamilton Boys’ High School), James Fouche (St Kent’s, Auckland) and Robert Stannard (Palmerston North Boys’ High School), leaves for Richmond, Virginia in mid-September to race against the world’s best.
Amongst the girls, Georgia is competing in both the time trial and road race events, while Hannah and Mikayla will both also be in the road race.
Hannah explained the details of the road race. “The road race is 85 km and it’s a mass start,” she said. “The circuit’s 16 km with a couple of hills included and we do it five times.”
It’s not a team event as such, but Hannah explained that the three New Zealanders will look to work together to help each other out.
“I expect some pretty tough competition from the Europeans especially. They’ll have large teams of up to eight riders so they will be able to work together, making it quite difficult.”
This is the first time that Hannah is representing New Zealand at world championship level, but she recently enjoyed success in Australia.
At the Australian National Championships on the Gold Coast in July, Hannah beat Australia’s top young riders to be crowned the Australian U19 Girls Road Race champion.
“I went over there last year and I found the racing pretty tough and a step up from New Zealand racing, so I was always hoping to go back. I did okay in the time trial criterium [fifth], but it was in the road race where I won. I was a bit surprised to win, but it was a great result for me and I’ll be up against a couple of those girls again at the world champs.”
Also this year she finished third at the Club Road Nationals in the Hawke’s Bay, while Hannah and friends Bryony Botha and Briana Gunn combined for Rangitoto College to win the Points Trophy at the North Island School Cycling Championships.
“Next weekend [5/6 September] I’ll be competing in the New Zealand School Individual road racing championships in Auckland. The team event is also coming up in Palmerston North, but that’s when I’ll be at the world champs.”
Needless to say, much of Hannah’s time at the moment is taken up with training. “I do between 200-300 km a week and also go to the gym two-three times a week.”
“It’s definitely hard to balance training with school, so often I’ll train in the morning before school. So I will get up at 5 am and train and then have the afternoon to do school work – but it’s a challenge at times.”
Hannah’s bike is her most precious possession. “We’ll be taking our own bikes over to the world champs and it’s our own responsibility to make sure that our bikes are working and set up how we want them.”
She said that in part she got into cycling through family. “Not competitively, but both my parents have always ridden, and my cousin Josh England used to ride for New Zealand. I got into cycling at intermediate school and Bryony Botha and I started competitive cycling together then.”
Hannah thanked all the people who have helped her get to the world stage, including her parents and her coach, Lynn Murphy. “A lot of other people have also come forward and helped me out financially, and that is all very much appreciated.”
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