If you are looking for a good weather omen for a summer barbeque at the beach, then don’t invite Jack Bauer.
The star cyclist, recently signed to Pro Tour glamour team Garmin Cervelo, has had his share of dramas in preparation for this weekend’s RaboDirect National Elite Road Championships in Christchurch.
The 2009 national champion firstly encountered unseasonably cold weather in a camp with his new team in the USA in November, before returning to Christchurch during last month’s earthquake, which his girlfriend’s house further damaged in the shake. He headed to the family home in Golden Bay for final training to be greeted by the Christmas Big Wet in the region.
“It’s been hosing down. I was out yesterday on the bike and nearly drowned in the process,” Bauer said.
Weather aside there’s still a broad smile on Bauer’s face after his elevation to a lifelong dream of riding in cycling’s main game
“To hit the Pro Tour was always the goal but I knew it was a gamble. It’s great to have a pro contract but to get that with a leading team is unreal.
“They are the perfect team for me to go to. I have some great teammates, good staff, an ethical approach to the sport – it’s all I could hope for.”
Bauer, who has spent two years riding for British UCI Continental team Endura Racing, has been earmarked as a lead out for Garmin Cervelo’s powerful sprinters as well as to compete in the famed early season European Classics beginning in March.
“I’ve been back in to it since the beginning of November. The first event for me is the Tour Downunder on January 15. Hopefully I will take some good form into the Nationals this week and take that into the Tour Down Under.
“I am a lot way more advanced in my preparations than where I would normally be. It’s what has to be if you want to focus on the Classics.
“As an ex mountain biker, I have always wanted to ride those famous races and ride the cobbles.”
He is unsure of his form coming in fresh to this weekend’s race but will be a favourite without fellow Pro Tour riders Julian Dean and George Bennett out injured while Greg Henderson and current champion Hayden Roulston are involved in team preparations for the Tour Downunder.
“There’s still plenty of talent in the race with the likes of Jesse Sergent, who won three times on the Pro Tour last year and some of the young guys will be a handful.
“This time I am feeling really fresh so it’s different. I feel way more prepared than I was last year though. It’s the first race of the season and you never know how the legs will feel.”
He enjoyed the honour of wearing the national jersey in pro racing two years ago and would clearly enjoy wearing the colours in the sport’s biggest races.
“It would be awesome. It is definitely the first goal of the season for me to win the title again and wear the New Zealand jersey on the Pro Tour.”
While he finished top-20 at the world championships after a less than ideal build-up, Bauer will only compete in Sunday’s road race at the national championships.
“I have bypassed the time trial to put it all on the road.”
The championships, in their third year in Christchurch, begin with the time trials over 40km (men and under-23 men) and 25km (women) on Friday at Lincoln College. The 123km women’s road race on Saturday comprises eight laps around the Hoon Hay circuit with the 186km men’s race on Sunday over 12 laps with both races including the telling climb up the Cashmere Hills on each lap.