WATTS POWERING: Yamba cyclist ready to race in New Zealand
CYCLING: After some solid results on the road in the last few months, former Yamba cyclist Aaron Watts is ready to take on his latest challenge, taking part in his first Union Cycliste Internationale tour which kicks off with the New Zealand Cycle Classic on Thursday.
Watts said he was keen to take his place at the event.
"It's my first UCI tour so it's a great opportunity to test myself against the world's best cyclists," he said.
"I was lucky enough earn a spot on Sydney based NRS team GPM - Stulz this year after some good results toward the end of last year. I had a good race at the National Road championships last weekend in Ballarat so earned my spot through that."
Last weekend Watts raced at the National Road Championships where he finished 15th in the Criterium event.
"It wasn't quite the same result in the road race but it was great to mix it with some of Australia's best, Richie Porte, Simon Gerrans and the like," he said.
"It was a great experience, it's always the toughest race, I enjoyed it. The atmosphere on the sides of the road is what makes it pretty special too."
Watts said he was excited to be a part of his first UCI tour after competing in some big UCI mountain bike marathons last year.
"I think after the last race at Nationals my form is good enough to get a good result," he said.
"We have a pretty strong team for this race so we have a few cards to play.
"My preparations have been good, I trained really hard leading into Nationals so hopefully I'm able to hold the form into New Zealand Cycle Classic.
"Being my first UCI tour I don't have any expectations. The goal is to build from here and use this experience. It's a great opportunity to be here (in New Zealand) and I will benefit from the experience."
While Watts will have to switch disciplines from track to road for this event, he said he was confident he had prepared well for the race.
"Each discipline requires a different approach and for stage races like the New Zealand Cycle Classic you need to be able to race for a number days consecutively where mountain bike races are typically a one day event so you need to train accordingly," he said.
"I've had some good results on the road in the last few months so I'm fairly confident of a good result."