Maier returns for seventh Challenge
Challenge Wanaka hometown favourite Simone Maier has put last year’s rib-smashing bike crash well and truly behind her.
Maier is in the 12-strong professional women’s field for Wanaka’s 226km triathlon on February 18 and once again is eyeing the podium.
It will be Maier’s seventh hit out at Challenge Wanaka, where she has consistently delivered a top-five finish, including one second place and two thirds.
Last year she got the galling ‘‘DNF’’ [did not finish] beside her name - this for a woman who would crawl over a line on her hands and knees if she had to.
‘‘Last year, I am pretty sure a stone got stuck in my brakes. I did a few tumble turns and I broke three or four ribs. But I had a pretty amazing recovery . . . Within about four weeks, I was back to normal,’’ she said.
Maier went on to compete with professional adventure racing teams in China and Australia and notched up a couple more unintended DNFs when various team mates also succumbed to illness or injury.
But she also had significant successes, including a win at the European Adventure Racing Championships in Spain with Sweden-based Thule Adventure Team.
In January, she won the mixed elite category of the Red Bull Defiance with her Wanaka partner, Marcel Hagener.
Maier briefly toyed with the idea of doing the Coast to Coast Longest Day on February 8, but Challenge was a no-brainer because of local support and the familiar course.
Maier said she would stick to her own race plan and not be too concerned about what her rivals were doing.
‘‘I have my best races when I am doing my own thing. But because I have to catch up after the swim it changes things.
‘‘Of course you want to catch up, get their splits. And it is important not to put too much pressure on yourself. But I can’t be riding along for too long in my bubble either, thinking, oh what a beautiful day,’’ she said.
Maier is also racing the Godzone at the end of February with defending champions, Yealand Family Wines (Chris Forne, Dan Moore, Dan Busch) and concedes the next few weeks could be ‘‘bloody hell’’.
She then plans a break for at least a month.
Simone Maier celebrates finishing the 2014 Challenge Wanaka, when she was third.