New bikes help pair reach their peak
A Taranaki cycle shop has come to the rescue of two bike-less French triathletes to contest this weekend's ITU World Cup sprint triathlon in New Plymouth.
Visiting athletes Etienne Diemunsch, 25, and Thomas Andre, 24, had their racing bikes and all 35kg of their multisport gear - valued at more than $10,000 - stolen from a garage in Melbourne early last week.
They were in Australia competing in a series of races and were training around the Geelong area preparing in readiness for their final race ast weekend at Mooloolaba in North Queensland.
From Clermont Ferrand in France, Diemunsch and Andre had no luck locating their gear despite help.
Police were unable to track down the stolen gear but, after all their training, the pair were desparate to compete, so they continued with their plans, pinning their hopes on borrowing bikes.
On arrival in Mooloolaba the pair hit the streets. Knocking on doors of all the bike shops in Mooloolaba, the coastal resort town for days asking for help they eventually found a business willing to lend them all the necessary gear.
Despite not being able to train, the setback and using borrowed bikes, both performed well, Diemunsch finishing 17th and Thomas 55th in the elite class.
Now the pair have come to New Plymouth for this weekend's event and have been in the same dilemma.
The athletes were based in New Plymouth early this year for training, before crossing the Tasman and staying with Taranaki Triathlon Club president Ross Dingle.
Their plans were always to return to New Plymouth for the ITU World Cup sprint triathlon in the city on Sunday. Ross Dingle was at the New Plymouth airport to pick them up last Monday.
''They are two of about 30 athletes from 13 different countries that I have found housing for while they are here for the New Plymouth race,'' he said.
Aware of their dilemma, Dingle stopped off at Mitchell Cycles in Strandon, where shop owner Blair Cox was only too happy to help out the bike-less pair.
Diemunsch is hoping to improve on his Mooloolaba placing on Sunday and is aiming for an top eight finish if ''things go well''.
''Last week we spent all the week looking for bikes so we couldn't train so it was not the perfect preparation,'' Diemunsch said.
''We went to every bike shop to see if it was possible for them to lend us bikes. We spent a lot of energy.
''Finding help in New Plymouth was a lot easier. To have some kind sponsor like [Mitchell Cycles] bike store is fantastic. We're feel very lucky,'' he said.