RIDER RADAR : GRACE ANDERSON
Who is Grace Anderson?
You may have heard her name pop up a few times this summer following a string of impressive performances down under. Safe to say, the young 20-year-old has now certainly made her mark on the international racing scene.
Highlights included storming to U23 victory at the New Zealand National champs in January, which also landed her on the podium of the elite women’s road race. She then continued this momentum and much to her world tour competitor’s surprises, rode herself into the young rider’s jersey at the Tour Down Under, eventually winning the classification and placing an impressive 9th overall!
She backed this up with top performances in both the Cadel Evans UCI 1.1 road race and Herald Sun Tour, up against some top competitors from across the globe.
Firstly - well done Grace! It has been both exciting and encouraging to see your progression and step up to top level racing this summer.
Grace is currently juggling study, alongside her racing aspirations and is just about to enter her third year of university, tackling a Bachelor of Business degree at Massey.
She currently rides for the Mike Greer Homes women's cycling team while home in New Zealand and also plans to return to the USA for her second international racing season with Team Illuminate – a UCI women’s professional cycling team based out of California.
Here, she shares some thoughts on her recent performances and whereabouts for the season ahead.
Plans for this season?
This year I plan on racing with Team Illuminate again. I had an awesome experience with them last year and I really liked the team culture. Last year was all about gaining experience for me and slowly finding my feet in the bigger pelotons. The manager Chris is always looking for bigger and better races for us to do and puts a lot of emphasis on developing us as riders which I think is important for me being so young.
How was your first season abroad and what do you think of the US racing scene?
I really enjoyed it, but it took me a few races to get into the groove of how people raced. The aggression and size of the peloton were the main differences I found coming from NZ. The races had really cool atmospheres, heaps of spectators and lots of prize money up for grabs which always makes racing more exciting.
When will you head over and where do you base yourself for the season?
I’m not entirely sure when I’ll head over this this year - probably late March or early April, sometime after Oceania’s. Last year I didn’t base myself anywhere as I was only there for 3 months, so I just travelled between races. However, this year I’ll be going over early so will most likely base myself in San Francisco for long periods of time as that’s where the team is based.
You’ve had a huge step up with your recent success in AUSTRALIA - was this due to some hard work in NZ over summer? Or a mix of that and racing internationally last year?
A bit of both - I definitely gained a lot of experience racing in the US last year. I did a lot of criteriums when I was over there at the beginning which has given me more confidence and helped my positioning (it is still something I‘m working on though). I had a break once I got home from the US last year and then my coach Aaron Strong was working me pretty hard to get me in peak form for Nationals and then AUS. Coming away with the NZ U23 road race title and 3rd in Elites along with my results in AUS are definitely a reflection of the experience I gained and support around me - coach, team, parents, mechanic, etc.
How did the tour down under this year compare to your first attempt back in 2016?
Going into the TDU this year I was a completely different rider to back in 2016. I learnt a lot that year, but being my first international race, it was fair to say I was definitely thrown in the deep end. Everything was new to me - the biggest bunch I had ever ridden in was 40 in NZ, so tackling a bunch of around 90 was a challenge in itself. I wasn’t too good at getting the elbows out and would just let anyone steal my wheel. I didn’t make the time cut after stage one which at the time was very disappointing, however I learnt a lot from going over there with more experienced riders such as Emily Collins, Joanne Kiesanowski and Linda Villumsen. This year, coming off a successful nationals I had a lot of confidence in my form and was much more experienced at riding in bigger pelotons. However, I wasn’t expecting to come away with the young rider jersey and 9th overall so that was pretty cool.
Goals for 2018?
My goals for 2018 are to continue to learn and grow as a rider. I hope to gain more experience in bigger races with the help of Team Illuminate. I’m super happy with my start to 2018; winning the U23 Elite Nationals road race and Tour Down Under young rider classification. It’s given me a lot of confidence as a rider and proven to myself I can mix it up with some of the best in the world. I’m definitely looking to continue this momentum into the US and hope to pick up some more solid results.
Lastly, Grace has kindly shared her top tips on how to best handle the heat when racing and training. Following a very busy block of competition, right in the heart of summer - we are confident her advice will not go amiss!
TOP TIPS ON HOW TO BEST HANDLE THE HEAT OUT RIDING
- Keep Hydrated - Your body will sweat more in the heat, to try and cool itself down, so it’s important to drink enough fluid to replace this during the ride. Electrolyte is also good for preventing cramp.
- Wear sunscreen - For obvious reasons 1; avoiding tan lines! and 2; protecting your skin from sunburn.
- Dress for the weather - Bibs and a short sleeve jersey are the best choice for hot weather. Choosing light weight material jerseys and avoiding dark colours such as black will keep you coolest. Also wearing finger-less gloves are better than no gloves, otherwise when the palms of your hands get sweaty gripping the bars can be tricky.
- Ride in the morning/evening if possible to avoid the hottest periods of the day. There’s lots of daylight in the summer and the roads are often quieter at these times of day too.
Thank you Grace and best of luck for the year ahead - racing, study and all that's in between. We will be following your adventures and look forward to seeing what you can do overseas!
To follow Grace's journey - head here:
Also - check out her current favourite summer brekkie recipe here: