GOUGH PREPARES FOR SHOT AT SECOND HOME WORLD CUP

Born and raised in a town of less than 5,000 people, one would think it impossible to fly under the radar when you’ve achieved the things that Regan Gough has.

A two time junior world champion, six time junior world medallist - equal best of any cyclist in New Zealand history - a Halberg Award at 17 and a world champion at 18. It’s an impressive list of accolades. Despite these achievements, fly under the radar he does.

Quiet and unassuming, Gough prefers to let his results on the bike speak for themselves. When he’s not on the bike, you’ll find him in his shed, working on his toys. Not bikes as one would expect, but cars. He is well known as the most mechanically minded  member of the Vantage elite men’s endurance squad.

He won’t have as much time as he’d like to spend on the tools this summer though as he prepares to race in another home world cup.

In December 2015 when the UCI Track Cycling World Cup rolled into Cambridge for the very first time, Gough was not far past his 19th birthday and had the cycling world at his feet. His junior world’s coach, now New Zealand women’s endurance head coach, Ross Machejefski, commented on that exact fact the previous year.

"We can expect big things from this guy who is as impressive on the bike as he is off it. Regan is a blue-chip prospect."

While it wouldn’t take much for one to assume Gough had gone quiet after he burst onto the scene as a fresh faced teenager, he has, as we should have come to expect by now, been quietly racking up achievements many 22 year olds could only dream about.

A fourth placing in the men’s team pursuit at the Olympic Games in Rio, three national road titles, and a silver medal and New Zealand record in the team pursuit at the World Championships in 2017. Gough has been anything but quiet.

When the riders take to the boards in Cambridge in the middle of what’s set to be another sizzling New Zealand summer, the temperature in the velodrome should hover about the 30 degrees Celsius mark. While even the thought has most of us sweating and reaching for a cold beverage, that’s part and parcel for Gough and his teammates who expect to only add to the heat when they light up the boards in front of a packed home crowd.

For the New Zealand team, racing a world cup at home is an extremely rare opportunity to showcase the sport of track cycling at the highest level to a wider audience.

“Track cycling is special because you can watch the whole race, all within metres of your seat,” says Gough. “When you’re that close, you can sense the emotion, the pain and the loss. It gives you a true appreciation and understanding of the sport.”

He’s also hoping the crowd will play their part in pushing the New Zealand team’s performance to the next level. The impression the crowd made on him during the 2015 event has him buoyed by the opportunity to pull on the distinctive black skinsuit in front of them once again.

“I’d never raced in an event of that magnitude before, and [the crowd support] took me by surprise. Having thousands of avid New Zealand cycling fans in such a confined area resulted in the most energetic environment I have ever raced in.”

If Gough lines up in the team pursuit on the 18th January, he’ll be hoping the team can go one better than their silver at home in 2015. If they do, that’ll be yet another achievement to add to a growing list that appears to have no end in sight.

CAPTION: Regan Gough (second from left) competes in the Team Pursuit at the UCI Track World Cup in Cambridge in 2015 (Credit: Guy Swarbrick).