Luke Mudgway in action during stage 1 of the Joe Martin Stage Race, photo Tom Ewart/NWA Photo

Luke Mudgway’s season with the H&R Block Pro Cycling Team has begun at the Joe Martin Stage Race.  With a new team Mudgway is already looking to hit the ground running and target the U23 leader’s jersey at the race; a competition he already sits in a healthy fourth overall in after day 1.  We wanted to know a bit more about how things were with a brand new outfit for the pocket rocket.

RC:  First of all having been through your training camp with the H&R Block Pro Cycling Team what has been your impression so far of what I can imagine would be a different experience to what you had in Europe with the NZ U23s? 

Luke:  My first impression of the team at training camp was really positive. To have a team that looks after the basic needs of a rider makes the season a lot easier for us to do our job. I knew straight away that the team really looked out for the rider’s best interests. In contrast to last season it really is a sigh of relief. I really learnt to appreciate the small things because without them it really makes life on the road very challenging. In hindsight I can’t look at it as a wasted season but a big learning curve going forward.

RC:  Tell us about the team and what we can expect to see in terms of strengths over the next few months?

Luke:  We have a very strong core group of riders in the team that compliment each other well. We then have a group of younger riders that will be swapping in and out of the races throughout the season to learn and develop as cyclists. We have a very good race calendar that matches our ability as a team. You’ll see us racing in America, Canada, Europe and Asia. We will have a lot of sprint finishes this year; we have a strong lead out train with a few riders that can finish the job. In regards to GC, I don’t think many of our races go over the big mountains passes and we have a few of us that are really strong on the shorter climbs. I believe we are a really well rounded team with the same goal. The riders on the Team have really stepped up this year and I am confident we will have as successful season.

RC:  The Joe Martin Stage Race has been a popular stomping ground for a number of Kiwis over the years. What does this race mean to the team and where will you fit into the team’s plans throughout the race? 

Luke:  Joe Martin is our first race of the season as a team. We really want to come here and make a statement early on. The race has two road stages, a crit and an uphill prologue. We have two GC riders, Marc-Antoine Nadon and myself. My goal for the race is to take the u23 leaders jersey. The finishes are really hard and I love a good crit, there are also time bonuses so I will be hunting them at the finish. 

Luke Mudgway raced in NZ U23 colours in 2017 and is excited about the transition with H&R Block Pro Cycling, photo Katie Farman

We just finished the first stage, a hilltop finish.  I got squeezed off my teammate before the bottom of the climb and ended up being too far back. The start of the climb was about 15% for over a minute; I managed to ride back to the leaders when it flattened off. It then kicked up again as I joined them and just got tailed off. Marc was in the break and got caught by the front group of riders from the peloton at the line but held onto 5th. I think I stayed top 15, just behind them.

RC:  Beyond the Joe Martin Stage Race, what will you be targeting this year? 

Luke:  This year I am really looking to build a profile for myself here in America. Every race I do I will look to do the best for the team, learn and build on my performance by pushing my limits and stretching my goals. Short term I am targeting Redlands and Winston Salem, both races suit me well so I will be trying to make the most of those opportunities. I will also be going for U23 road world’s selection later in the year.  The course is really challenging so it will take a lot of work to be competitive there.  I’m still learning about my ability as a rider as I continue to do the switch from track to road.  The more road I do the lighter I get and the more versatile I become as a rider.  I’m really excited about the season and look forward to what is to come.

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