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Triathlon star’s switch praised as a ’gutsy move’

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 27/08/2014
Tom Davison
Nick Reed/Fairfax NZ
CHANGING COURSE: Kiwi triathlete Tom Davison is giving away the sport to focus on road cycling.

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Triathlon and cycling officials have applauded Tom Davison's ''gutsy move'' to switch sports mid-career.

The Commonwealth Games representative has decided to retire from triathlons to have a crack at breaking into professional road cycling.

BikeNZ high performance director Mark Elliott said yesterday Davison would be a welcome addition to the ranks and his work ethic would help make the transition.

Elliott spent ''a bit of time'' with Davison at Font Romeu in France when the Bike NZ man was coaching New Zealand triathlete Nicky Samuels.

He said Davison is ''a brilliant bike handler', who is ''not afraid of doing the hard work, seven days a week''.

''He's got the attributes [of a successful road cyclist], but it's going to take time.''

Elliott, who was Triathlon New Zealand's high performance boss when Hamish Carter and Bevan Docherty won gold and silver medals at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, said Davison gave a glimpse of his potential when he finished third at the road cycling national championships in Christchurch last summer.

Only pro tour riders Hayden Roulston and Jack Bauer beat the triathlete.

But it would be a challenge ''to get to the next level on the international scene. It's a longer, tougher pathway than what it is in triathlon."

Davison does, however, at 24, have age on his side.

''The timing is exactly the same that Jack Bauer decided he was going to have a go at becoming a pro bike rider,'' Elliott said.

''Jack went to Belgium by himself, won a few races and got picked up to ride in Britain. And then he got picked up by Garmin-Sharp [a top US-based pro team].

''It's never too late. You can see, with guys like [37-year-old] Greg Henderson, that the sport has got some longevity.''

Elliott said Davison had similar qualities to Bauer.

''He's a great team man and he gets on with anyone ... he's got a big heart and he's not afraid of hard work.''

Still, it was a ''gutsy move'' to walk away from triathlon when he could ''make a living'' on the non-drafting circuit in America, Elliott said.

''The returns in pro cycling are quite substantial when you get to the top, but it takes years to get there.''

Triathlon New Zealand high performance director Graeme Maw said the move was ''pretty exciting for Tom''.

Asked if he thought Davison was making the right decision, Maw said: ''The right thing is generally to pursue what's in your heart and your passion; and Tom wants to give it a go.

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''He's only 24, he's a young man who wants to explore his possibilities and it's been a passion for him to have a crack and see what he can do [in road cycling].''

He said Davison had been ''fantastic to work with'' and had made a ''great contribution'' to New Zealand triathlon this year.

But Maw said the Canterbury man, while being ''a good international triathlete'' probably wasn't a fast enough runner to compete with the top men on the world circuit.

However, Davison had ''demonstrated on the bike'' that he was one of the leading riders on the triathlon scene.

Maw said Davison wasn't the first multisport man to make the switch.

Australia's Jonathan Hall ''went the other way'', going from his national road cycling team to becoming a double world duathlon champion.

Former world triathlon champion Ivan Rana later signed for a Spanish pro road cycling team.

Davison, who has recently been training with the New Zealand triathlon team in Spain, would always be welcome back ''if he turns around and says 'I want another go at triathlon', or if he just wants to join us for training,'' Maw said.

- The Press

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