Luke Mudgway has finished second in the GS Montalto-Roncola. After a challenging U23 Giro d’Italia Mudgway sprinted to second place in the event despite really tired legs. It was a strong performance to Mudgway who headed to the race without heavy pressure on the day.
The U23 Giro d’Italia was a massive experience for a handful of New Zealand’s finest young riders. Luke Mudgway was among them, and he came away from the tour very tired, and unsure what to anticipate as he rolled up to the start line at GS Montalto-Roncola. “I was really tired coming out of the Giro, I rode the day between the races to keep the legs moving. It took a few ks for the legs to wake up. Mentally I was pretty relaxed going in I didn’t put any pressure or expectation on myself,” Mudgway told RoadCycling.
Racing in the U23 Giro d’Italia was an experience to remember, more for the learning curves than anything else as the New Zealand team were thrown into a standard of racing unlike any they’d experienced at U23 level. “It was an experience we needed. The team had a lot of young riders who haven’t experienced European racing before. The Giro had the best of the best in terms of riders for U23,” Luke explained. “Racing in 35 degree heat and mountains day after day was relentless. It was an eye opener for sure, we had a bit of bad luck but learnt valuable lessons that we will take forward.”
The GS Montalto-Roncalo presented Mudgway, James Fouche, Matias Fitzwater, Bradley Leitch and Alex West with 160km of racing near Florence. Short climbs were a feature in the race, as were quality riders as the race drew a number of teams who had been at the U23 Giro d’Italia. It is a testament to the progress that Luke has made that he felt a lot more competent on the climbs now compared to how he would have felt if he’d just landed in Italy and tackled the race. “If I had done this race when I first arrived I would’ve said it was very tough,” he said. “The more we have raced in Italy the more my body is adapting to climbing.”
Aggressive racing characterised the early part of the race, with New Zealand doing well to mark the moves and cover early attempts to go clear. Eventually with 40km covered Mudgway used one of the climbs to leap across a gap to the front group of riders. All in all the leading group was still quite sizeable – 25 strong – by the time they reached the finishing circuit. It became clear that a number of riders were keen on avoiding a sprint finish if possible.
“A group of 5 got off the front and I was then in a chase group of 5, over the climb I rode across to the front group solo with 4 laps to go. The 6 of us worked together and 4 more riders joined,” Luke said. “With a lap to go one rider attacked solo as he had a teammate in the group, we hesitated, he got a gap and we couldn’t close it before the finish. Up the finishing climb the Colpax rider attacked; dropping a few riders before we came to the line for a sprint for 2nd.”
It was a strong performance from Mudgway who grabbed a well earned second place over a type of course that he is adapting better and better too. We will keep you posted with further updates on our New Zealand U23 riders as their season continues to unfold.