Blows make rider tougher

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

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.

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