La'chlan Robertson ready for Tour of Southland debut
La’chlan Robertson is a relatively recent convert to road cycling, but he’s going to be undergoing an intensive internship over the next month.
The 18-year-old will make his Yunca Junior Tour of Southland debut this weekend in the under 19 classification before heading to the Tour of New Caledonia in mid-October.
Then it's on to the big one – the SBS Bank Tour of Southland in early November.
That all adds up to thousands of kilometres of racing for the Southern Performance Hub, Cycling Southland and Academy Southland athlete.
And it comes off the back of a decision only earlier this year to switch his cycling focus from the track to the road after missing out on selection for the UCI junior world track championships.
“I was kind of in the gutter for a while, wondering whether I should continue on with cycling. I knew I’d had success on the road before, so I decided to give it one more shot. I changed coaches to a specific road coach and have just gone from there,” Robertson said.
Under the tutelage of Wanaka-based coaches Patrick and Tammy Harvey, who also have world road championships representatives James Fouche and Mikayla Harvey in their stable, Robertson has built his engine through 2019.
The transition has had its challenges.
A twisted pelvis, the legacy of a heavy crash at the Oceania track championships in Adelaide last year which made the national news, kept him out of racing for several months, and then there’s the different training loads required.
“Last year I would have done four to five hours a week on the track and now it’s down to an hour, and there’s a lot of time on the road, maybe five hours each day in the weekends, long boring efforts developing my endurance. It’s been a big change, but it’s come at the right time and it’s had a big impact.”
Robertson was initially part of the national squad based in Cambridge, but was enticed south by an invitation from Southern Performance Hub coach Sid Cumming.
He’s been busy completing his first year of a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise at the Southern Institute of Technology, getting assignments done early and working with his tutors to balance his studies and his impending heavy racing schedule.
His time in the Academy Southland programme has also made the shift south smoother.
Along with gym work and other services the programme provides, Robertson has listened closely to the advice of nutritionist Aimee Hall.
“Track riders are a lot heavier than road riders, so I’ve had to come down quite a bit in weight to make that transition easier. All of the support (from the programme) has made things a lot easier.”
If you are wondering about the unusual spelling of Robertson’s first name, put that down to his Scottish heritage.
La’chlan is pronounced as ‘Laklan’ and Robertson inserted the apostrophe after teachers and swimming commentators struggled to pronounce his name correctly.
He’s also been a handy rower in the past, a single season stint on the water at under 15 level saw him included in one of the most successful crews in Hamilton Boys’ High School history, winning four gold medals at the Maadi Cup. Two of his teammates won every medal available to them that year.
“It was a big thing to step away from rowing after doing that, but I think I’ve made the right decision. That was definitely a highlight in terms of my sporting career. We cleaned up about 12 medals across the season.”
Robertson is hoping to perform well in tomorrow’s team trial and possibly pick up some stage wins during the three-day Yunca Junior Tour of Southland.
Making good decisions and marking the right riders will be on his to-do list.
The step up to the SBS Bank Tour of Southland, considered New Zealand’s most prestigious multi-stage road race, is also on his mind.
“It’s a hard step up to the elites, but you have to do it sometime and I thought I may as well do it the first year I’m eligible. The younger guys coming up are showing we have the power and skills to beat some of the veteran riders,” Robertson said.
“Talking to the boys who have raced it before, like Hamish Keast and Josh Haggerty, those boys have talked about how hard it is, but how rewarding it is as well to finish the tour and race against some of the best guys in New Zealand. I’m ready to rip into it and can’t wait to see what results we can get out of it.”