Trail blazer earns world series spot

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WORLD SERIES: Teen mountainbiker Oli Nicholls has secured his place in the UCI Mountainbiking Downhill World Series in Europe.
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Ashburton mountainbiker Oli Nicholls is on cloud nine.

He has secured a place in the UCI Mountainbiking Downhill World Series and is looking at five months of downhill racing.

The 17-year-old’s national team narrowly missed out on a team entry selection and Nicholls had to apply as an individual to Cycling New Zealand for one of six supplementary entry positions.

Nicholls’ application for one of those much-sought-after spots was successful.

‘‘I’m pretty excited really, less than a month now to go,’’ he said.

Back on the bike following a shoulder injury (torn ligaments and muscles) from a fall three weeks ago at Mt Hutt, Nicholls will compete in the under 19 category of the world series which gets underway in Europe from May to September.

The Downhill World Series is the world’s best riders competing in one race to be the fastest downhill.

ON CLOUD NINE: Mountainbiker Oli Nicholls is looking forward to spending the next five months riding every day among top international talent.

Nicholls, travelling with his father Anton, will initially compete at Fort William, Scotland, near Inverness.

‘‘We will see how we go there, then we fly out of Scotland into Prague and pick up an RV; dad and I will trip around for eight weeks in an RV,’’ he said with a grin.

It will be a full-on five months of riding with World Cup rounds and additional racing options.

‘‘I’m over there for five months and I can ride every day for five months,’’ he said.

There will be seven or eight events, then, if he gets a world championships spot, much more.

If he doesn’t, he has been offered a chance to travel with a professional team for the last event in France.

‘‘I will go and try to get a spot at world champs, if not we’ll head home but otherwise one of the pros have said that I can go with them in their RV and trip round to the last one in France.’’

Nicholls, who has a following on YouTube and Instagram, got a taste of international racing when he competed at the Crankworx Cairns world tour event in Australia last year.

The world series is a huge personal commitment with a lot of self-motivation.

He is in charge of his own training, fitness, and funding.

He works 38 hours a week at Stoked Cycles in Ashburton, has been training up to 11 hours a week; nine hours on the bike and two hours gym work at his family home, and also still competing in national races.