`Confident’ ahead of step up to elite level

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Oamaru mountain biker Connor Sandri is excited to be swapping the workshop for the track as he embarks on the next stage of his mountain biking career.
The 18-year-old, who was recently named sportsman of the year at the Waitaki Sports Awards and is the New Zealand under-19 downhill champion, has a busy few months coming up.
He took part in the Oceania championships in Queenstown last weekend, and will compete in four UCI World Cup events in Australia, Scotland, Austria and Switzerland between late April and early July.
For Sandri, who works as a joiner at Oamaru’s Millennium Joinery, the circuit will bring a step up in class, to the elite category.
He said he was keen to compete against some of the top riders from around the world.
“I’m definitely looking forward to getting over there. I’m looking forward to the challenge of moving up and seeing how I stack up against the big guns.”He admitted he was a “wee bit” daunted by the move, and said it would be more difficult to make the finals.
However, he was confident he had the tools to do the job.
“I’m pretty happy. I’ve got a new coach and I’m feeling fit and strong heading into these races. I’m confident I can make finals in all of them.”The former Waitaki Boys’ High School pupil, who finished fourth at the recent New Zealand downhill championships, said racing overseas was different from competing at home.
“Overseas is definitely a lot bigger. New Zealand races are really chilled out and everyone is super friendly. Overseas, it’s a lot more serious; everyone keeps in their own wee bubble, and the crowds overseas are just massive.”
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