Kirsty McCallum has come out the other side of a busy 2019 summer series all smiles after winning the 30th edition of the Bev May Women’s Tour. The Velo Project rider took the lead in stage 2 and defended it against a big late challenge from Courteney Lowe. Afterwards we got to catch up with the newly crowned champion.
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RC: How are you feeling at this point in the summer season to have the winning form that you showed over the last couple of days?
Kirsty: After having a busy summer season over January with 5 UCI races including Tour Down Under, Cadel Evans Road Race and Sun Tour it was nice to have a quick break and then get back into training leading into Bev May Women’s Tour. Doing the Australian summer of racing I learnt so much about myself as a bike racer, and how I could transfer from ‘racing to be competitive’ to ‘racing to win’. This weekend shows this development which I am so pleased about, yet hungry for even more.
RC: With a four-stage in two-day kind of race like what you experienced over the weekend how do you approach a race like that tactically in terms of knowing how much to exert and how much to hold back?
Kirsty: I have competed in the Bev May Womens Tour several times, and the first day is relatively easy though you need to be mindful of breakaways which could gain time prior to the queen stage on Sunday morning finishing up Tahuroa Climb. For me it was a case of keeping the race in check on day 1, though I ended up taking out stage 2 and moving into the yellow jersey earlier than I had wanted. Stage 3 was a revised course, and after doing my research I knew it would prove to be a challenging course for most riders. I back myself on any climb regardless so I was not hesitant to be aggressive during this stage. This saw me take out 2nd on the stage after being in every move the entire race.
RC: Talk us through your win in stage 2 and how you found the Tahuroa/Bell circuit.
Kirsty: The Tahuroa/Bell circuit was probably the most animated I’ve ever seen a New Zealand women’s race. Every climb there was a select group of 4-5 riders who got away from the main field; Jenna Merrick, Deb Paine, Alicia Evans, Courteney Lowe and myself). After taking all four QOMs on the stage I was aiming to show them I wasn’t at this tour to muck around. Another selection was made on the final lap, however the nature of the course unfortunately meant that the bigger diesels like Pip Sutton and Laura Jorgeson managed to get back to us into the final 10km.
RC: With quite a large group of riders in the lead breakaway group how did you find that you functioned together?
Kirsty: A small group caught us with probably 5km remaining so from there it was a bit of cat and mouse. I am not a pure sprinter but I have a decent kick on me so I went all in for the sprint finish. Coming from mid-pack I got around everyone to win by a comfortable margin.
RC: How are you feeling to have come away with the overall title and QOM jersey?
Kirsty: I went into the tour with high expectations of myself after learning so much over January and re-assessing with my coach (William Green) all components of performance to ensure I was capable of making it happen. The QOM jersey was a sure target for me, after finishing 2nd last year. Once I had that sealed up, I really focused on taking out the overall title. Though it was more a matter of me focusing on each stage as a 1-day race to produce the best outcome overall for the tour.
RC: Where do you head from here as the summer wraps up?
Kirsty: It is a busy time of the year with racing on most weekends for 3 months. Next up is the first round of the Calder Stewart Cycling Series in Dunedin. Followed by other domestic races including Gentle Annie and Club Nationals. In between them I will head to Tasmania for the Oceania Championships where I will be focusing on the road race with my team Velo Project. The remainder of the year is going to be exciting with races in Australia, Asia and Europe where I will target the NRS and more UCI races.
Kirsty would like to give special thanks to her coach William Green and to her personal sponsors Peak Fitness and Health, Peak Massage and the amazing group of sponsors around my domestic team Velo Project Women’s Cycling Team for making everything possible.