Former Christchurch Boys’ High School cyclist Bailey O’Donnell’s gamble on himself appears to be paying off as he won his first road race in Europe.
The 18-year-old is in the midst of a two-month stint racing on the roads of Belgium, an opportunity organised by former New Zealand cyclist Hayden Roulston.
O’Donnell said he would use the opportunity to try to make the most of his talent while he could, but he has also been doing some part-time building work back in Christchurch.
O’Donnell won a 100km race, often referred to as akermesse, inDeinze, west of Flanders.
He is racing for a small under-23 Belgium team and is loving the experience.
“Belgium is pretty much the home of road cycling in the world, I think it’s the biggest sport here after soccer.
“They havemany different kinds ofraces on every day of the week in different areas, people come from all over the world to race here.
“They close the whole town down for the race andevery onefrom that town comes out to watch and also there is always a carnival on at the same time.”
O’Donnell said he saw an opportunity to take control of the race and took it.
“I decided to race a lot more aggressive than I have been and put myself in to the red a lot more than usual,” he said.
“It came down to a bunch sprint and I didn’t know if I had the legs but I saw a gap open on the inside with about 300m to go and I hit it and managed to get past everyone and hold on for the win by a few bike lengths.”
O’Donnell said he still has a month to go in Belgium and hopes he can catch the eye of team scouts and hopefully get the chance to come back.