Blows make rider tougher
Nothing seems to be able to put the brakes on cyclist Sean Joyce’s determination – not even being bedridden with disease or hit by a car.
It has taken four years living in Europe for the former Tokoroa cyclist to stand on the top podium platform – but not for want of trying.
‘‘Most years have been writeoffs,’’ he said.
‘‘The first year I came over a ute backed out of its driveway and hit me, the next year before I came over I got a liver disease . . . and last year I was suffering from a cyclist injury [endofibrosis] in your iliac artery where the artery becomes fibrous and makes your leg go numb whilst riding.’’
The 21-year-old Forestland Wheelers Club member, who has been sponsored by Terra Safety Shoes since 2012, won a local Belgium kermesse held in Evergem-Belsele on August 15.
‘‘The races here are always hard, some more than others but that day there weren’t too many times where I was in difficulty,’’ he said.
Joyce, who trains up to 30 hours a week, said the win came as a relief.
‘‘I was unbelievably happy when I knew I had won . . . I’ve had some really tough times these past few years and a lot of things haven’t gone my way and it was getting to the point where I was starting to doubt whether I could win races anymore.’’
The liver disease was a huge setback, he said.
‘‘It made training pretty difficult, I was pretty much always tired. It was hard to get on top of and quite mentally stressful when I was told if I didn’t sort it out it could potentially lead to things like sclerosis, cancer and a liver transplant.’’
Joyce said there was an element of luck in his recovery.
‘‘Fortunately, I’m in this small percentage of people if I take this medication called ursosan it keeps my liver under control.’’
But the endofibrosis diagnosis and surgery was ‘‘definitely the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with in my life’’, he said.
The aspiring professional started riding when he was 10. He remembers the green Bauer bike he used to rip up tracks on.
‘‘I probably first wanted to be professional when I made the U17 National team when I was 16 and I grew more confident that I could do it when I was selected for another two years.’’
Joyce heads back to New Zealand on September 26.