Nicky Samuels: “I only had three weeks to learn to ride a MTB”

This year's Xterra Worlds winner describes her race

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New Zealand’s Nicky Samuels, 30, talks us through her winning race at the Xterra Worlds in Hawaii, and how she had just three weeks to learn her way around a mountain bike.

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220: What does it feel like to win the Xterra World Championship?

Nicky: It’s always awesome to come away with a World Title. To finish the season that way was awesome, and the training I did for it was a lot of fun as it was so different – a pleasant change.

Can you talk us through how your race went?

I started on the left and everyone else was on the right. I thought the currents were better where I started for the beach start, and I ended up at the first corner right up with the leading men. Unfortunately the guy in front of me lost the feet of the guy in front of him and slowly my group slowed down.

I found it difficult to push the pace when the guys try and sit on your hip, breaking free was hard but it was lovely to go around the swim buoys and not get beaten up for once! I love swimming in the surf so I was a little disappointed there weren’t bigger waves, but enjoyed the beach swim anyway. We don’t get many these days in WTS races. I exited the water in second behind Flora [Duffy].

I caught her at the start of the bike where it goes into the bush, so about 1km into the bike. Following that it was a matter of getting into my work on the bike. While I was no good on the descents and the technical parts, I made up for that by pushing the climbs.

I thought if I could make it off the bike with a lead or in contact with it I had a chance to win. The last 5km or so of single track was rather tricky for me, with lots of off cambered corners and sand, so I was a bit concerned that the other girls would put a lot of time on me there.

The run was a matter of survival. I thought we would all be running at the same pace up the hill so it was just about getting to that finish line in one piece. I only had three weeks to learn to ride a mountain bike, so because of lack of time for conditioning I was getting cramp in my hamstrings a lot trying to run off the bike.

I was happy that I had a time buffer in transition and at the halfway mark at the top of the hill in the run. That race is a tough race, I give a lot of respect to all those who completed it!

What do you think gave you the edge over your rivals?

The ability to swim with the men is helpful but I think my ability to climb helped. For a WTS triathlete to come off the mountain bike in the lead gives an edge because generally you know you can run OK.

Any big plans for the off season?

No. At this stage I am looking forward to a well-earned break and then it’s just summer base training in New Zealand.

What are you most looking forward to in 2014?

The Commonwealth Games and also working with my running coach to see if I can take my running to the next level.

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(Photo: N20 Photo Services)