As the sun begins to set on UCI racing over on our corner of the world, with the Oceania Championships still to come, Mike Greer Homes Women’s Cycling can reflect with pride on what has been a phenomenal month of racing on our shores and over the ditch; culminating in the team’s and Jenna Merrick’s success at the Herald Sun Tour.
The palmares reads exceptionally well. Since 4th January MGHWC riders have had an exceptionally strong affinity with the podium. Whether on the road, against the clock, over the gravel or in multi-day races:
National Road Championships U23 time trial:
1st: Jenna Merrick
2nd: Georgia Christie
3rd: Libby Arbuckle
National Road Championships road race:
1st: Georgia Christie
Gravel and Tar La Femme:
2nd: Jenna Merrick
3rd: Rylee McMullen
Santos Tour Down Under:
2nd in young rider classification: Niamh Fisher-Black (racing for New Zealand)
Herald Sun Tour:
4th: Jenna Merrick
1st in young rider classification: Jenna Merrick
Unquestionably success has followed the team wherever they have gone since the turn of the year, a feat even more impressive given that when the team met for their annual training camp in Wanaka some 60% of the squad was entirely brand new to the team. The success of Jenna Merrick in winning the young rider classification and finishing 4th overall is testament to what the Mike Greer Homes Women’s Cycling Team have displayed throughout the summer; that any individual’s success in this team is formed on the back of a totally committed wider unit.
Patrick Harvey spoke to us after the Sun Tour, saying, “Jenna’s result was due in no small part to the effort of her team mates.”
“We discussed our roster this year with the riders and each one totally got it and put their own personal aspirations to one side for the team. Both Jenna and Niamh did this at Nationals to support Georgia up the road with Libby’s support. Then again at Gravel & Tar the team put everyone else in the hurt box to get Jenna up the road then didn’t participate in the case effectively nullifying any chance for the lead two to be caught.
“We had a strong plan with every rider having a plan to follow to support the lead riders of Jenna and Niamh with Amanda strongly leading the team. Whether it was our U19s feeding the team or Libby Arbuckle getting in the break on the first day or Amanda and Niamh positioning the riders the girls did a fantastic job and off the bike were also exceptional while having a tonne load of fun.”
“This was such a fantastically run event as well with the organisers being very supportive of a small kiwi team. We definitely had an impact unsettling some of the bigger teams both days by being actively involved and not happy to just sit back and watch so all in all super happy.”
At Gravel and Tar the team were powerfully and effectively led by Rylee McMullen calling the shots as road captain; while at the Herald Sun Tour the team benefited from Amanda Jamieson taking on that role.
“Amanda has been a fantastic addition to the team. In stage 1 she took Jenna under her wing especially in the finale with Jenna tucked onto her wheel to negotiate the always hectic finish to a race on a tight and technical circuit. Then on stage 2 Amanda’s experience from Europe came to the fore anticipating the crosswinds and getting the girls into position to make it into the final stages of the race and to guide Jenna into jumping across to her winning U23 move.”
“For us reviewing the last hour footage from each stage and to see our 3 young Kiwis battling it out behind the Mitchelton-SCOTT pain train when most of the teams are being split to pieces was such a proud moment. Even better though was the feedback post event from the riders themselves after watching the footage of how they could do better. Always looking ahead!”
Patrick has made no secret of the long-term as well as race-by-race strategy the team employ to their calendar that forms a strong backbone and clarity to what the team do on race day. “We take the approach right from the start with each program that we sit down with the team discussing the strengths of each rider relative to the course and competition. From here we develop the plan together and then fine tune it as the tour progresses. The entire team from DS through to rider through to mechanic has input and feedback,” Patrick told us.
“Importantly as well this year we took the focus away from young rider or u23 and just focused on getting the best result possible. Seems to have worked and fits our K-I-S-S (keep it simple stupid) principal.”
Their approach has certainly worked over the summer and with a debut campaign in Europe coming up this year, this professional attitude is set to become even more necessary on the global capital of cycling.