Two young Nelson siblings, Niamh and Finn Fisher-Black, are already planning for next season, after winding up a highly-successful year on the bike at the Tasman secondary schools road cycling champs held in Nelson last week.
Nelson College for Girls student Niamh, 14, made a solo break to win the under-17 girls road race and finished second in the time trial in Wednesday’s champs. Younger brother Finn, 13, also had a good day in the Moutere Valley, winning both the under-15 boys road race and time trial.
But those results were hardly surprising after the two riders recorded a succession of top results in Tasman Wheelers club races and in junior tours around the country. Niamh also made an impressive international debut earlier this month, finishing second just ahead of Waimea College’s Britney Kerr in the Canberra Junior and Women’s Tour.
Although there is one year difference in their ages, at this stage there is nothing between them on the bike, and Finn says they have enjoyed a number of close finishes in the Tasman Wheelers B grade races. “I’ve had a few top three finishes in B grade this year and usually my closest competitor is my sister,” Finn says. “I usually go a bit better than her if it comes down to a sprint finish, but she is better on the hills – it depends on the race.”
Finn says the highlights of his season were finishing second in the Te Awamutu Tour and third at club nationals in his first year as an under-15 rider. The year 9 student has the Cuddon Tour and Yunca Tour in his sights again later this year – he also wants to try and break through into A grade races with Tasman Wheelers.
“I’ll have two weeks off and then start training again for Cuddon and Yunca. I also do some cyclo-cross over winter, which is good fun.”
Niamh’s highlight was undoubtedly her second placing in Canberra where she secured her podium finish by winning the second road race after making a solo break away eight kilometres out.
She was selected for the New Zealand team for Canberra after a series of top finishes at the Cuddon, Yunca, Te Awamutu and Manawatu tours.
Although Niamh is a talented all-round rider, winning the under-15 grade at the Cuddon Tour, she is gaining a reputation as a climber, securing the Queen of the Mountains jersey at the Yunca,
Manawatu and Te Awamutu.
Niamh and Finn’s father, Jim Black, is also a top rider, racing in amateur club races in France when he was younger. These days, Jim is content to ride in club A grade races, although dropped down to B grade while he recovers from injuries suffered in a high-speed crash in the Tour de Vineyards in December. “I crashed going down Stanleybrook Hill and dislocated a hip and tore my hamstring, so I’ve been riding in B grade. But I’m not sure I’ll be allowed to do that for too much longer – Niamh says she wants to race by herself and doesn’t want her dad out there.”
Niamh and Finn weren’t the only Nelson riders to impress at last Wednesday’s Tasman champs, with Nelson College for Girls Georgia Cowman winning the under-20 girls road race and time trial and Jessica Alloway finishing second in the under-15 girls time trial.
Nelson College’s Keegan Hornblow and Ari Scott were second and third respectively in the under-15 boys road race. Nelson Intermediate’s Kaio Lart was second in the year seven and eight boys road race.