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Gordon McCauley – NZ’s newest pro-cyclist
Oct 10th, 12. After the Commonwealth Games in 2010, Gordon McCauley retired from international cycling. He rode as a master, built up his coaching business and tried his hand at triathlons.
Now the 40 year old is back doing what he loves best, leading from the front of the peloton.
From January 1 he is once more a UCI registered pro-cyclist, this time with Australian team Drapac Professional Cycling.
“Why not?” he answered as to why he’s chosen to step back into elite cycling.
McCauley loves challenges and when he found triathlon was not for him he realised he missed the intensity of hard out training and the motivation that comes from having a massive goal.
“I went to vet racing and then messed about with a couple of triathlons where my ambitions definitely exceeded by ability and I lost my motivation to train hard,” McCauley explained.
“There always has to be another goal, there always has to be another pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that I’m chasing – that’s just how I am.
“I decided I wanted to train a bit harder myself and GMC Coaching is going quite well with good systems in place allowing me more hours to train, so I thought I want to get back to a good level and see how high a level I can get back to”
He didn’t like not setting a great example for his coached riders. His latest goal is to prove you can be Vet2 and ride at a very good level just like the only two 2013 pro-riders older than him, Jens Voigt (RadioShack Nissan Trek) and Niko Eeckhout (AN Post Kelly).
Previously, McCauley won the national road championship five times and he represented NZ at four Commonwealth Games. He won a bronze medal in the time trial in 2006 in Melbourne and was a stand-out support rider in 2010. He raced in the European peloton from 1999 to 2002.
Since he made the decision to rekindle his cycling career this winter, he dropped 7kg, entered a new regime which includes daily stretching (for the first time in his career), and is seeing the improvements. As a guest rider for Drapac he won two races in Australia, and for Scotty Browns Vision Systems he won two rounds of NZ’s Benchmark Homes Elite Cycling Series.
“I’d sooner come back to racing Elite and have to train hard and be careful with my diet and do the work - perhaps not win as much as I used to, I can’t beat mother nature – but I’d sooner not win as much as I used to but have to do the hard work,” he said.
McCauley’s role in Drapac isn’t to win races, although the Australian peloton will soon learn not to give him too much freedom or he’ll never be seen again! He describes his role in the team as similar to that of Jens Voigt.
“I’m the older wiser guy trying to organise the guys on the road and just ride my normal style of race – pretty aggressive – and try and look after the guys, keep them out of the wind when I can. Riding hard on the flat is what I am good at.”
This step back into pro-cycling does not mean a step back from his coaching business, in fact McCauley says the two will benefit each other. Through his time racing in Australia he has already picked up some Australian riders, and introduced one of his younger riders to Drapac’s feeder team.
“The team is flying me over to Australia on a Friday afternoon and flying me back in when the race has finished. It’s no different to me flying to Christchurch for a Benchmark race then flying back to Auckland,” he said of the time away from his coaching business.
As well as continuing to learn, “every time I start a bike race I still learn”, the Auckland coach also sees opportunities to help his young riders to break into the Australian pro-scene.
It’s something Drapac also recognize, as Team Manager Jonathan Breekveldt said when he announced the signing today.
“Not only is Gordon a highly competitive rider, which he has shown at the two National Road Series (NRS) Tours he rode with the team this season, but also being a figurehead in New Zealand cycling he will be invaluable in helping the team both identify young talent from across the Tasman and grow the our brand awareness in New Zealand.”
McCauley expects to be racing most of the Australian National Series as well as other one off races and perhaps an Asian tour too. Although Drapac plan to come to New Zealand for January’s NZ Cycle Classic tour in the Manawatu, McCauley can’t make it. He has a prior commitment to host a travel tour to the Tour Down Under in Adelaide.
It is one of the things he likes about Drapac, they respect and encourage a life outside racing. In fact the team rules state you must be working or studying fulltime to be in the team.
“They are not just about making good cyclists, but making better people.”
But first, the Tour of Southland
Before McCauley officially joins Drapac, he is looking forward to racing the Tour of Southland with his team Barry Stewart Builders GMC Coaching.
“It is no secret I love the Tour of Southland, this will be my 20th tour. I want to go down and race well, what goals that means I’m going for – we’ll see. I don’t think I can win it at 40 years old, but never say never.”
New found respect for triathletes
While he has left behind his triathlon ambitions, he came away from his short time in the sport with a new found respect for triathletes, and a not too shabby result sheet for himself.
“Bottom line – I suck at triathlon. I swim like a set of car keys and run like a snail,” he joked.
While battling constant running injuries, a common problem for cyclists trying to cross over, McCauley completed two half Ironmen events. He finished Top 50 out of over 800 while setting the fastest cycling split in both. He also qualified in his age group for the half ironman worlds.
“I’ll never ever bag a triathlete again, it’s so hard. You spend 24/7 in the hurt box, there is no rest day with triathlon training. Cycling is just as hard, but it’s a different hard. You finish a bike race just as knackered as triathlon, but with cycling you can get up and race against the next day – you’re not going to do back to back triathlons two days in a row. It’s a different type of hard.”
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