Sandler looks for speed in buildup
Story by: Simon Bloomberg - Nelson Mail - Photo by: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport
Nelson downhiller Leo Sandler is looking to get faster and fitter as he completes his buildup to the world mountainbike championships in Austria starting at the end of this month.
The 17-year-old Nelson College student left Nelson last weekend on his way to Morzine in Switzerland where he will be based leading up to his world junior men's downhill race on September 2.
Sandler will train and race in Switzerland with his sister Veronique, who has also been named in the team, before they head to the world champs venue at Leogang in Austria.
Although Leo Sandler has been in good form in club races around Nelson this winter, he said he would need to train hard to find some more speed and fitness to be competitive in Austria.
"I finished second to [former national downhiller] Kieran Bennett last weekend and thought I was riding all right. I'd also got the fastest time of the day when we had the club race on the Maitai Face but I will need to get faster for the worlds.
"It will be good in Switzerland though because they have chairlifts on the courses so I'll be able to do run after run. We don't get that opportunity over here so I'm looking forward to it."
Sandler would also need to adapt to the European course which he said tended to be longer and "rootier" than downhill courses in New Zealand.
The downhill course at Leogang is 2.6 kilometres long with a vertical descent of 524 metres. It has steep steps, bumpy tree roots, narrow curves, fast sections as well as a flatter "pedally" section in the middle that will test rider's fitness.
"I like riding really fast tracks with big berms and big jumps so the course should suit me but I hate pedalling so I'll have to get a bit fitter for that."
He will join Takaka's Reece Potter in the New Zealand junior downhill team at the worlds. Veronique Sandler, 18, will also be racing in the elite women's downhill in Austria in her first year in the elite competition.
Richmond's Tom Filmer will be racing in the junior cross-country race in Austria on September 8.
Nelson Mountainbike Club raised $2000 for its world championship riders at an Enduro stage race held in the Maitai Valley on July 29.