After half a decade of working with some of the finest young riders in New Zealand, the journey for Mike Greer Homes Women’s Cycling has come to an end. We spoke to Patrick Harvey to talk about the decision to end what has been one of New Zealand’s most prominent teams.
RC: First of all tell us about the decision you’ve come to with Mike Greer Homes Women’s Cycling Team and what’s brought it on?
Patrick: MGHWCT has been a huge part of our lives over the last 5-6 years and has made for some amazing and wonderful memories. What we have accomplished together has been amazing and I know some life long friendships have been made, alongside pathways into professional teams for several of our riders and experiences on the bike that will last forever. Over the last few years the time required and personal investment has increased dramatically and the impact it has had on us financially and on our time has made the project no longer viable. The work behind the scenes and the barriers to overcome have only become larger as the years have progressed. Although we have been incredibly blessed with loyal and passionate sponsors the gap between the costs required and the funds available has only become larger. We would love to continue this development but the realities are it is no longer viable for us.
RC: How have the riders in MGHWC responded to the news and what does this mean for their immediate futures?
Patrick: Obviously our riders are disappointed. We have worked hard over the years to create a cycling ‘family’ where we are all chasing the dream of furthering our cycling and the opportunities within the team and in racing domestically and overseas for New Zealanders. For some riders they were already moving on to higher teams overseas and for others they were already looking for a change of direction so in a lot of ways the timing could not have been better. We continue to be passionate about women’s cycling and will do all we can with our riders to help bridge the gap to new opportunities and hope to have more targeted opportunities available for them as well in 2020 though other initiatives.
RC: What are the emotions like at the end of what’s been a very busy and successful journey over the last few years?
Patrick: I think my initial contact with the riders once we had made our decision sums it up ‘It is with a heavy heart and lots of sadness…’. No doubt it has been a very tiring and hard year so in some ways a relief but also to say we haven’t questioned the decision would be a lie as we know there is still so much more to be done and our young women need support and advocators more than ever. The great thing about New Zealand, though, is we have plenty of passion, and there are others doing great things in this space already as well. Its time for others to step up too!
RC: What does this mean for your future in cycling and how you’re going to be involved going forward?
Patrick: Our coaching business is thriving and with our small but very successful group of riders this is definitely a focus for us. In 2020 we will have 6 riders racing for UCI teams primarily in Europe including 2 professionals racing at the Women’s World Tour level. We have some incredibly exciting young talent coming through and hope to guide them like we have our older riders from school age through to U23 and beyond. This is exciting times and with our huge successes in Europe this year we only hope to grow and learn more.
From a NZ womens perspective we are working with Cycling NZ to create a racing / learning opportunity for emerging road riders in Europe. Taking the lessons we have learned with MGHWCT domestically and especially in Europe this year we have some exciting ideas on how to help our NZ riders bridge this gap. We know our riders have the talent, we just need to guide and support them through stepping up to riding amongst the worlds best.
RC: Looking back on what you’ve achieved with the team, what makes you proudest about all you’ve accomplished domestically and internationally?
Patrick: Regionally having our riders stand on the podium at all the National and Oceania’s championships we have done since we started has been a huge accomplishment which we are very proud of but just as importantly has been the team camaraderie and team culture that went alongside this to create a supportive and positive mindset. Every year the best moments come at team camp when you see a group of young women striving to improve and work together towards a common goal. This is something very unique about our sport that makes cycling standout from other endurance sports!
Internationally having our riders progress onto UCI teams and then onto the World Tour racing has been more than we could have hoped for in such a short time for riders so young. Seeing 4 riders that have come through the MGHWCT program racing at the very highest level in 2019 has been a dream come true – it captures our #racetodevelop, #mentortosucceed and #engagetosinpire tag lines superbly!
RC: What do you hope people in years to come will be able to look back and say about MGHWC?
Patrick: We would like to think we had made a positive step in developing and evolving NZ womens cycling and proving that NZ women have what it takes to race amongst the best in the word. Ideally more riders are inspired and a dream was born to become the very best they could.