Kiwi multisport legend, Steve Gurney, is in the country.
He is here for the Samoa Events’ Ford Tour of Samoa. The 54-year old is an icon of the New Zealand multisporting scene and he loves coming here.
He is looking to challenge the tour leader despite surviving a horrible crash only three months ago where he sustained multiple fractures to his rib cage. He is also coming from the deep south of NZ where it was snowing at ground level when he left.
Gurney is the most successful competitor in the history of NZ’s Coast to Coast race. He holds the most wins, nine, in total. He was honoured in the 2004 Queen’s Honours with the NZ Order of Merit for his services to his sport.
He is now retired, but the competitive edge remains. This year is his second Tour of Samoa, and his fourth visit to participate in Samoa Events races. His first visit was back in 2012 for the Scotsman’s Trail race, and again the next year for the same event. He next returned in 2015 for his first Tour of Samoa. Then, he finished second behind Tour eventual winner Christian Wengler. The duel between the two remains one of the closest racing on Tour so far. They were separated by a mere 10 seconds after four days of hard riding.
Both men are riding the Tour this year. Gurney has a warning for his younger rival, “Tell Christian I’ll be nudging him all the way.”
It will be a tough ask for the 54-year old to shake the rattle up front. There are other speedsters on the tour he is yet to meet.
Besides, Gurney has yet to fully recover from injury. He was flat and lateral this time two months ago on a hospital bed after sustaining 19 fractures in the ribcage from a trail bike accident. He was riding on a downhill slope going very fast, slipped on a slippery slope and landed hard on a bollard. He was lucky he didn’t break his spine.
Gurney’s visit this time is a recovery mission. He is slowly getting back from injury. Recovery has been slow, but steady.
Training for the Tour has been limited to RPM spin classes. Gurney said that was“boring” and the only thing that helped sustain him in the 1-hour long boring sessions were “visions of riding in the Ford Tour of Samoa”.
Where he lives in Queenstown it was snowing at ground level, meaning it was very cold.
“I am coming from the freezer into the frying pan,” Steve said with his typical Gurney humour.
Add to that the lack of training. The surgeon banned him from riding a bike, until two weeks ago. He just had to get out of the Spin room and ride a real bike. He managed four rides in the last two weeks.
Gurney is still “a bit broken” but he will give the Tour leader a “nudge” despite his lack of training.
“I’m a bit unfit but not totally unable to make a challenge out front,” he said.
Having sustained the injury, it was an easy decision to make to return for his second Ford Tour.
“I need to blow out my lungs. There was 300ml of blood in the lungs from the injury. It’s all gone now but the longs need some warm air to get them moving again.”
“The cold at home is not good for punctured lungs; this is recovery and regeneration after the accident.”
Steve still has metal plates in the rib cage as well. It means that if he crashes, it could be catastrophic for me.
The legend is looking forward to the camaraderie of the Tour, and meeting other riders. He will also reprise his role as tour Whip that he performed so well two years ago.
The Ford Tour of Samoa starts on Monday in Apia and finishes back five days later. There are 42 riders this year, and three local riders in the Tour.