Ryan Wills’ not-so-hidden track ambition

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Ryan Wills on the offensive during the men's points race, with Hayden Roulston trying to follow, photo Dianne Manson

The cat is out of the bag, Ryan Wills has announced his intentions to pursue life on the track, and he chose this year’s Track Nationals as the place to do it.  Silver in the points race, racing away with a brilliant Aaron Gate was a fine way to get attention, and we got to catch up with him afterwards.

RC:  Congratulations on today, it’s great to see you on the podium.  You animated the race yesterday in the scratch race, but was the points race the big focus for you this weekend?

Ryan:  I definitely had more emphasis on the scratch race purely because – it’s been a hidden ambition but I guess now it’s out there – I want to race for the track squad.  I want to really test myself on the track and at the end of the day the scratch race can go either way; we saw last night it was a really hard race.  I was probably too over-geared with the speed being so up and down.  But definitely tonight the points race it’s a demanding race, I came out tonight with the intention to really push those guys and really challenge myself and see what I’m physically capable of really.

RC:  You got into the breakaway twice with Aaron Gate.  What’s he like as a guy to try and follow not only as a rival but also as a breakaway companion?

Ryan:  He’s probably the one guy in the race you want to follow just because he’s so smooth on a bike.  He’s one of the most gifted riders of our generation really, and you can see it when he pedals.  He can hurt you when he wants to hurt you, but if you anticipate it and you know it’s coming – I learnt that at Waikato Champs when he used my inexperience against me to kick underneath me and lap up – and I was expecting that so I was switched onto that tonight.  And I think that was one of the keys to looking after myself, anticipating when he was going to do and what he was going to do.

RC:  It was interesting seeing the strategy you played, it was much more breakaway oriented rather than sprints.  Had that been on your mind considering the calibre of riders like Hayden Roulston, Pieter Bulling, Cameron Karwowski and the rest of them?

Ryan:  I think with my preparation, I came off road nationals and I’ve been on the track for three weeks purely pursuit training.  I was a little bit disappointed in my pursuit, I know I had another 5 seconds in me but inexperience in me for the first lap; I got ahead of myself and came through too fast.  But I can ride even, even, even but I hadn’t really done that pure intensity of lift and back off, lift and back off, so I think Gatey was much the same and that’s why we were able to feed off each other and I feel like we carried each other really well through the race.  I figured we were travelling well when the first guy we were riding with lost pace, second lap we had another guy with us but he also lost pace so then I knew we were on; and we got the race by the scruff of the neck.

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