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Former top Kiwi cyclist swaps the bike saddle for the couch

Former top Kiwi cyclist swaps the bike saddle for the couch as Commonwealth Games loom

A former top New Zealand cyclist who knows the taste of victory on the sport’s international stage is gearing up as an armchair supporter to cheer on the Kiwi cycling team competing in the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Scotland.

Champion rider Mark Rendell has stocked up the pantry of his Rotorua home with performance-enhancing coffee and chocolate to get him through what will be the long hours during the middle of the night and early mornings watching TV coverage of the games.

Rendell is the last New Zealander to have won a gold medal in cycling at a Commonwealth Games – taking out the top podium spot at the 1994 games in Canada for an exceptional ride in the individual road race, and adding to his tally at the event with a New Zealand team bronze in the team trials discipline.

These days Rendell spends more time pedaling property as a salesperson with real estate agency Bayleys, although he is still actively involved with Rotorua’s mountain biking scene and can be seen riding around the Rotorua lakes district virtually every weekend.

“Cycling is in the blood…. no pun intended,” joked the lean 45-year-old in reference to the sport’s various doping scandals. “It’s a great way to keep fit and has a very social aspect to it.

“We’re incredibly fortunate in Rotorua to be blessed with such varied terrain and routes that allow everything from mountain biking through to long-distances road tours. And the world-class new velodrome is only just up the road in Cambridge for the track riders.”

Mr Rendell predicted some long sessions ahead in front of the TV watching his beloved sport, “although I might try and record some of the racing and watch it over breakfast.”

“I had a bit of practice watching the daily highlights of the Tour de France over the past couple of weeks, so the body and mind are in pretty good shape for the ride ahead, albeit from the couch,” he said.

“There’s some excellent talent among the New Zealand cycling team up in Glasgow, and I’m picking we’ll see multiple New Zealanders taking the podium in several cycling events.”

So who are Rendell’s New Zealand medal picks from the Kiwi cycling contingent appearing at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games…?

“We’ve got a very strong representation in my old event, the road race. And even though it is an ‘individual’ event, watch out for the Kiwi boys to look after each other. There’s every chance we could have two on the podium – take your pick from Jack Bauer, Greg Henderson, Jesse Sergeant, Shane Archbold and Tom Scully. That’s a very strong contingent.

“I’m also expecting great things from Jesse in the individual time trials, and likewise from the boys in the 4000 metre team pursuit event.

“On the track, we’ve got excellent medal prospects on the pedals of both Simon van Velthooven and Eddie Dawkins who are both competing in the keirin and team sprint disciplines.”


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