Pilley aiming for a Classic year to write home about
HE MAY be one of Australia's least recognised sporting champions but Morgan Pilley can barely cover a few hundred metres in his home town of Yamba without being noticed.
Pilley's been back in town for just over a month, enjoying a few months off following a tough season tackling some of the toughest environments in Europe.
The world-class endurance mountain-biker started the season late because of a few travel issues, making his transition from 24-hour races to marathons that little bit more difficult.
But that did not stop the 27-year-old from turning in a good season, chalking up several solid results in the marathons and winning the Rome 24 hour - and the accompanying Roman Legionnaire sword - for the second time.
If his 2013 campaign registers as a good year on his scale, 2014 could be his biggest yet - and not just from a results perspective.
Pilley's profile is set to gain an enormous boost next year, with a new six-hour race he designed which may also be named in his honour.
"It still feels a bit bizarre," Pilley said. "It's good to have people see me in that respect.
"Last year I raced the Xterra Italy (off-road triathlon) in a team, and the race organiser approached me about a few mountain bike projects.
"It's a very good, professional organisation behind it so I'm confident of delivering a quality event."
Pilley will serve as technical director for the course, using his years of experience to help design a challenging race.
"I was a bit nervous at first - I'm not sure I've done enough in the sport to have a race named after me," Pilley said.
"A lot of other riders have said it's good to see and I've earned it.
"Hopefully it all goes well."
Pilley's off-season is anything but quiet, with sponsor negotiations and extra training keeping him busy.
He signed up to become an international ambassador for BikePure, a not for profit anti-doping group focused on promoting clean cycling.
As well as all of that, there is another race he is helping design - a multi-day stage race in the Abruzzo region.
"If all goes to plan this will be a major international race," Pilley said.
"There are a few stage races already. It's a popular form of racing but there aren't too many due to logistics to organise.
"I've been an ambassador and invited to races before and provided some advice for the course but not as much as this."
The six-hour race is tentatively planned for the end of July, with the multi-stage race pencilled in for August.
Pilley's influence extends beyond the European mountain biking scene.
He has also dipped his toes into coaching, giving local athletes Aaron Watts and Tristan Allard an extra hand in helping them to become better riders.
Watts competes in the National Road Series while Allard is a gifted triathlete improving with every race.
"I love coaching," Pilley said. "I started with both of them this year. We talk pretty much every day.
"Aaron is pushing for bigger races so I've been helping him out with that.
"At the start of this year Tristan was struggling to ride with the group around Yamba. Now he's pushing the pace of 100km group rides after doing his own stuff beforehand."
Pilley said he would most likely continue to compete in the marathon races next season, but said he would like to enter one or two 24 hour races.