Teen aiming for top spot at world champs

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Wanaka teenager Mikayla Harvey has little doubt the heat will be on when she competes at the UCI World Road Cycling Championships as a member of the New Zealand team in the Middle East in October.
The event is being held in Doha, the capital city of the Persian Gulf state of Qatar that has Saudi Arabia as its only land border.
A year 13 pupil at Mount Aspiring College, Mikayla said temperatures would be anywhere from 30degC-40degC so heat training would be all part of the build-up for athletes.
Selected for the New Zealand team last month, she and other team members will head to Dubai a few weeks before the championships to acclimatise.
‘‘While the course is pretty much all flat, it is also likely to be very windy, so mastering weather conditions will be vital,’’ she said.
She will race two events in the under-19 division — a 13.7km time trial and a 75km road race that will take competitors through the desert countryside and the cobbled streets of Doha, an emergent financial centre of the Middle East.
It will be the second time the teen will have lined up in the world championships after competing in the event in the United States last year.
‘‘I finished 54th, pretty much midfield, which I think was average. I wasn’t ready for the whole scale of the event. In New Zealand, you race with 20 to 40 riders in a bunch but there it was more like 80 and everyone was so competitive.
‘‘But the result was not too bad and the best thing was that I learnt somuch. It gave me great experience going into the worlds this year.’’
She is aiming for a win at Doha.
‘‘You have to be in to win; that is what I am going for.’’
The past year has been testament to that philosophy as the member of the Black Magic women junior cycling team has competed in races around New Zealand and in Australia.
Highlights include winning the Oceania Championships in March and gaining second place at the criterium national championships.
She also won the under-19 girls road race at the National Cycling Club Championships in Alexandra in April.
Originally from Auckland, Mikayla, parents Patrick and Tammy, and older sister Cassandra moved south 2 1/2 years ago.
A passion for road cycle racing grew out of a childhood immersed in triathlon.
‘‘I’d been doing triathlon since I was little. Swimming, cycling and running were always a part of life for the whole family. Everyone is into triathlon,’’ she said.
A demanding 15-20 hour a week training regime leaves no time for other sports especially given the need to balance school studies.
Her new home town was an awesome training ground in summer but a challenge in winter.
Focus now was on Doha and the opportunity to ‘‘go out there hard and challenge. I love the adrenaline you get from racing — it is just awesome’’.
Mikayla said she was likely to reach speeds of up to 40kmh in her time trial and the 75km road race was likely to take about two hours depending on conditions.
Next year, she aimed to make the jump to elite and long-term her goal was to join the professional cycling ranks.