Jan 31st, ’15. As 2014 ended and 2015 began Natasha Hansen decided to make the move to the Waikato area to train at the Avantidrome. What she didn’t count on was World Cup selection and a potential shot at the World Championships next month. We talked to her to find out more.
Natasha Hansen on her way to silver in the women’s individual sprint, photo Eugene BonthuysJan 31st, ’15. As 2014 ended and 2015 began Natasha Hansen decided to make the move to the Waikato area to train at the Avantidrome. What she didn’t count on was World Cup selection and a potential shot at the World Championships next month. We talked to her to find out more.
Some things just seem to happen at 100mph and Natasha’s rise that started with a geographical relocation has been one of those fast moving, try-and-keep-up things. “It’s been quite full on and a bit of a surprise. I’ve been back riding and was racing at the Southland Champs,” Natasha told RoadCycling. “Last year I was out for three months at the start of the season because I had a prolapsed disc, so that was three months of rest. It’s a little bit frustrating at the moment because I feel like it was a bit of a rush to the Cali [World Cup] campaign being three months behind; I just want to be going better than what I am. But it’s good because there’s lots of strong competition between us girls and it’s made me lift a lot faster.”
The end of 2014, which was a difficult year with the injury setback from the start of the season, saw Natasha head north for a new beginning that turned out to be much more than she bargained for. “I moved to Cambridge on the 1st January, but I started working at the control tower in Hamilton at the beginning of December, so at that time I thought I’d just be coming here to train.” But when it was announced that Steph McKenzie would take a break after two rounds of the UCI Track World Cup, Natasha was drafted in to take the number two spot in the team sprint alongside Katie Schofield. “Then I got invited to the Cali pre-World Cup camp. I didn’t really expect to be going, but it was a bit of a surprise – a pleasant surprise – but it felt a bit frustrating just not having much time to work on that second lap. But [at the World Cup] I feel like we did transition quite well, just falling back into the old days; so it was good to do a team PB.”
With her performances on the track of late, Natasha has certainly made a case for Worlds selection, photo Eugene Bonthuys
With the World Championship selection coming up and two spots likely to be given to the women’s sprint team, it will be very interesting to see who gets the nod, and even though Hansen and Schofield combined to go through to the bronze medal match in Cali, Natasha is aware of the calibre of her teammates. “They’ve been riding phenomenally the last six months to a year,” Natasha said. “Steph had an excellent campaign pre-Comm Games and at the Commonwealth Games she did really well, you can see she’s just kept building on that.”
Natasha, Steph and Katie will have their last chances to impress the Cycling New Zealand selectors tonight and tomorrow. First of all comes the keirin where all three qualified in their morning heats. But tomorrow Natasha will team up with fellow-Southlander Steph in the team sprint. “The team will be selected after this weekend, and I’m unsure how that will go. Obviously I’m going to continue to try and put my best foot forward. With the team sprint still to come I’ll be pairing up with Steph again for that so hopefully I can just build on my second lap time, and also we can work together again to beat our New Zealand record. It’s really exciting, hopefully I can just transition into the national programme after this and be carded and really be on top of my game.”
By: Ed Wright