Wollongong’s UCI Bike City ambassador Samara Sheppard has earned a spot on the New Zealand team for this year’s world cycling championships.
Samara, who secured her spot with outstanding performances in Europe in recent weeks, was announced in the NZ team for the mountain bike events at the historic UCI World Championships in and around Glasgow, Scotland, next month.
Her selection for these unique championships is a dream come true for the multiple NZ and Oceania champion, who first represented New Zealand at the world championships in Glasgow in 2007.
“I’ve competed in the UCI mountain bike world champs several times, but this one will be extra special, having all the cycling disciplines competing in the same championship over 10 days,” Samara said.
“I feel proud to have been selected. I prepared well in Wollongong prior to travelling to Europe for a short international campaign to earn my spot, and I’m pleased with my performances and the continuous improvement in each event.”
Samara has been competing in key lead-up races in Europe, finishing seventh overall in one of the world’s toughest mountain bike races, the BMW Hero Dolomites, in the famous Dolomites mountain ranges in Italy in June.
Not content with that, she won the famed French marathon mountain bike race, the MB Race, on France’s Mont Blanc just two weeks later.
“Currently, I’m in Livigno, Italy, training at altitude for my final preparations, alongside my husband and training partner [Kyle Ward],” Samara said.
“I’m really looking forward to racing at the world championships and seeing what I can achieve.”
In the mountain bike events, the riders will contest downhill at the famed Fort William course in the Nevis Ranges, nearly 200 km north-west of Glasgow, on 3-5 August. The cross-country marathon, in which Samara will compete, will be on 6 August at Glentress Forest, near Peebles in the Scottish Borders, about 100 km south-east of Glasgow. The cross-country titles will be decided at the same venue from 8-12 August.
The UCI World Championships will feature 13 cycling disciplines over 11 days, incorporating road and track for able-bodied and paracyclists, mountain bike downhill, marathon, and cross-country, BMX racing, freestyle and flatland, trials, indoor and a Gran Fondo.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery will be representing the city in Glasgow.
“It’s a wonderful achievement for Samara and terrific for Wollongong to know we will have one of our very own UCI ambassadors competing at this unique international event,” Councillor Bradbery said.
“Samara has been a great ambassador for cycling in Wollongong and the UCI and has been at the forefront of ensuring our city benefits from the legacy of hosting the world championships and being a UCI Bike Friendly city.
“I’ll look forward to passing on Wollongong’s congratulations firsthand to Samara when I see her in Glasgow and will be the loudest voice on course cheering for her.”