Just a year after taking up road cycling, Kim Cadzow is already a national champion and now targeting more success in Europe, Henry Rounce writes.
Before Kim Cadzow met her coach Patrick Harvey, she didn’t even know there was such a thing as being a professional cyclist.
She had now the idea you could head overseas to try to become one, and she certainly didn’t know she’d be doing just that 12 months later.
That’s exactly where the 20-year-old finds herself though, after moving to London last month to ride for Team Torelli-Cayman Islands-Scimitar. The British development team has been a training ground for multiple cyclists in the past, including New Zealand’s Niamh Fisher-Black, now one of the best young riders on the World Tour.
Cadzow’s startling ascent through the cycling ranks begins with her sporting past, which is defined by her eagerness to give everything a go.
Growing up in Tauranga, she spent several years as a competitive swimmer. She was then dragged into mountain-biking by her bike-mechanic brother, but she soon realized she didn’t have the “craziness for the downhill.”
Cadzow moved to Wanaka, where she met her partner, Brad. He was involved in triathlon and encouraged her to train up to do a race with him. Cadzow went on to compete in events such as the Wanaka Challenge, but was forced to stop after a run of stress fractures.
Of the three disciplines, swimming was her favorite having done it for so many years as a teenager. Running certainly wasn’t, especially for someone who “used to sit in the bushes at cross country at school” so she wouldn’t have to compete.
That left cycling, which she’d started to fall in love with. At the age group nationals in April last year, she was spotted by Harvey, a renowned coached who’s propelled some of the country’s finest overseas, including his daughter Mikayla, now riding for World Tour team Canyon-SRAM.
Harvey suggested a permanent switch to road cycling, which she mulled over throughout the event. It wasn’t until she got back home she realized it wasn’t such a bad idea.
She took up the offer to be coached by Harvey, and the first few weeks as she threw herself into her latest sporting pursuit were challenging.
“I had to develop a lot of skills quite quickly. With the triathlon, I was doing half-ironman events, so I spent most of the time just riding by myself on my time trial bike. Moving over to doing actual road cycling and trying to jump in the bunch and handle it with a group of girls or men around me was a bit foreign, ”she says.
Cadzow spent hours going up and down The Remarkables, working on her cornering and handling skills. Things like holding the wheel – riding closely behind another cyclist to reduce drag – were scary at first, but soon became second nature.
It helped having a couple of experienced training partners on hand, too, with Mikayla Harvey and Michaela Drummond joining her for rides at the end of last year in their off-season. Drummond is also coached by Mikayla’s dad, and regularly rides on the World Tour for Italian team BePink.
“They took me under their wing and told me what I was doing right, and what I was doing wrong. Having them to look up to has just been amazing, and being so welcomed by them at training was a really cool feeling, ”Cadzow says.
After putting her head down and working hard throughout the summer, she entered the road cycling nationals in Cambridge in February. She surprised many by winning the U23 time trial title, with a time that also would have placed her third in the elite category.
She enjoyed more success against the clock at the Oceania championships in April, finishing second in the U23 time trial despite stifling conditions in Brisbane. Dealing with 30 degree heat and high humidity, Cadzow pushed herself so hard that she blacked out for a little while at the finish line.
Anna Cadzow (left) stoked to be on the podium at the Oceania U23 time trial in Brisbane.
She’s used to putting herself through the wringer from her days in triathlon, which has helped prepare her for the grueling discipline of the time trial.
“It’s grit your teeth, put your head down and see how long you can push for before you explode,” she says.
While there are undoubtedly more milestones to come in her career, competing in Australia was a special moment for Cadzow.
“I always said as a kid I wanted to compete internationally, so it was quite cool to achieve that dream. Even just heading into the start line, I knew that I’d accomplished one of my goals from when I was really young, ”she says.
From there, she’s linked up with Team Torelli. She’s already competed in her first European race in Belgium, riding on the corrosive cobblestones for the first time, and lining up against 160 athletes, instead of the usual 50 or so from back home.
Cadzow is planning to stay with the team for most of the season, which ramps up this month with a series of races throughout the UK and Europe. She’s hoping to secure a top 10 finish at one of the events, with the eventual goal of joining Fisher-Black and Harvey on the World Tour in the next couple of years.
As someone who enjoys being busy, she is also studying a Bachelor of Sports Management through Massey University. It helps fill in some of her downtime, although trying to study in a different time zone is proving tricky. Her exams start in New Zealand time, meaning she sometimes has to pick up the laptop at 9pm in London, and try not to fall asleep before the 1am finish.
Her cycling education is now the priority, though, and after already achieving top marks in such a short space of time, she seems destined for higher honors as her career progresses.