Wollongong’s UCI Bike City Ambassador Earns World Champs Selection
Wollongong’s own UCI Bike City ambassador Samara Sheppard has earned a spot on the New Zealand team for this year’s world cycling championships.
Sheppard, who secured her spot with some 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 next month.
In the mountain bike events the riders will contest downhill at the famed Fort William course in the Nevis Ranges nearly 200 kms north-west of Glasgow on August 3-5, with the cross-country marathon on August 6 at Glentress Forest near Peebles in the Scottish Borders, around 100kms south-east of Glasgow. The cross-country titles will be decided at the same venue from 8-12 August.
This forms part of the UCI’s bold plan to host the world championships for 13 cycling disciplines over 11 days, incorporating road and track for able-bodied and Para-cyclists, mountain bike downhill, marathon, and cross-country, BMX racing, freestyle and flatland, trials, indoor and a Gran Fondo.
Sheppard has been selected and will compete in the women’s cross country marathon event on August 6.
The selection is a just reward for the Kiwi native who lives and works in Wollongong and trains around the Illawarra including at our own award-winning Cringila Hills Mountain Bike Park.
“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,” Sheppard said.
“I feel proud to have been selected. I prepared well in Wollongong prior to traveling 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.”
Sheppard has been competing in key lead-up races in Europe finishing seventh overall in the 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 Sheppard went out and won the fames French marathon mountain bike race, the MB Race, on France’s Mount Blanc just two weeks later.
World’s 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.
“Currently, I’m in Livigno, Italy, training at altitude for my final preparations, alongside my husband and training partner (Kyle Ward),” Sheppard said.
“I’m really looking forward to racing at the world championships and seeing what I can achieve.”
Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM, who will be representing our city at the UCI World Championships in Glasgow, expressed Wollongong’s excitement about Sheppard’s selection.
“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,” Cr 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 first hand to Samara when I see her in Glasgow and will be the loudest voice on course cheering for her.”