KIM CADZOW: Racing in Europe, Rubbing shoulders with idols and that race up Ventoux

After a frenzied start to her first ever season of racing in Europe, we managed to catch up with Team NS rider, Kim Cadzow over a morning coffee and hear all about her swift introduction to Continental Pro racing in Europe. 

Kim is currently staying with relatives in Scotland and enjoying some well earned relaxation after a couple of months of full gas racing.

CD: The last time we caught up was just after Oceania Champs, before you flew to Europe. What did you notice when you turned up to your first race having only raced at home in New Zealand and then at Oceania Champs in Australia?

KC: I arrived in Mouscron, Belgium for my first race and got thrown straight in the deep end! There were fans on the side of the road asking for autographs before the race had even started and 170 riders in the peloton. We were riding 5 or 6 wide across the road and battling for position in the bunch before we’d even got out of the neutral section! 

Seven k’s into the race we hit a cobbled section and I’d never ridden on cobbles before in my life!

CD: Are we talking the nice Champs-Élysées cobbles or the rough Roubaix ones? 

KC: It was rough. Gaps on the road big enough to swallow a tyre and there were girls and bikes flying off the road all around me. Only 80 of us finished out of the 170 that started!

My next race was a far more chilled Belgian race before we got to France for a couple of one day races. The French races suited me a lot better than the Belgian ones. There were heaps of nice rolling hills which gave me a lot more opportunities to move up the bunch and get some good results on the board. I finished 16th and 14th in those races. 

CD: Coming from NZ where we don’t have big pelotons in our road events, what kind of things did you notice and have to quickly learn in the big races?

KC: It’s been a massive learning curve. Going into those one day races is a bit like going to war. Before the race starts, all of the girls are just waiting to go into battle. Once the flag drops, the elbows come out and everyone is yelling at each other in French, Dutch or Spanish. The bigger teams tend to have a bit of a right of passage and like to be at the front and in control. There’s definitely a lot more teamwork and well thought out race strategies. 

CD: Dwars door de Westhoekv in Belgium, looked like a race that had everything. What was that like? 

KC: Unbelievable! The course had it all. It was super technical with cobbled sections, hard corners and road furniture which could easily catch you off guard. There were even some sections that suddenly narrowed and compressed the bunch in really tight. It was hot but also raining so the roads were slick and there were a lot of accidents. The whole race had to stop for 25 minutes because there weren't enough ambulances to deal with all the crashes. Then after all of that it finished with a cobbled bunch sprint, Roubaix style. 

The cycling fans in Belgium are next level. They are cycling crazy and want to talk about cycling any time of day. 

CD: I’m itching to hear about the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge and it’s epic that you got to ride in the first ever women’s edition of the race. What kind of reception is Women’s Cycling receiving in Europe? 

KC: It’s growing really quickly and it’s awesome to see. The women’s side of the sport is becoming noticed more and more and we’re seeing more World Tour events being launched for women’s teams. Next month is going to be the first ever Tour de France Femmes which is massive for women’s cycling. 

CD: When I think about all of the French cycling I’ve watched over the years, the Champs-Élysées and Mont Ventoux are probably the top two pieces of road that come to mind. What was it like getting to race up one of the greatest roads in cycling history? 

KC: Epic. 

We’d had a couple of days training in France in the lead up which we really needed as we’d come from British weather and 18 degrees in Manchester, to France where it was 40. 

The race was an invitational event so as well as a handful of Continental Pro teams, there were three World Tour Teams. I managed to get to the front of the bunch for the start and had a pinch myself moment lining up next to one of my idols, Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM). 

The first 30 minutes before we hit the first climb was pretty surgey and 4 girls had attacked and gone up the road. I was tempted to chase at that point, but I knew that the climb up Mont Ventoux was going to take 75 minutes and require all of my energy. We rolled over the first climb and the peloton was rolling down the other side at 85 km/h. 

My family had come over to support me and were waiting on the roadside with some frozen bottles and ice socks for me - absolute lifesaver! 

As we headed up Mont Ventoux the peloton started to shrink and I held my position in the bunch. Riders from the FDJ Team were doing a lot of work on the front to close the gap to the breakaway and we caught them with 10km to go and then it was all on! The FDJ girls started attacking and then with 6km to go there were two girls off the front from FDJ and Cofidis. 

I got sandwiched between a couple of girls and ended up on the front of the bunch trying to pull back the leaders. 

With 3.5km to go, there were only 8 of us left and it blew up. It was every woman for themselves. 

Looking up with 2km to go was just incredible. Fans everywhere, even the motorbikes were cheering us on and my idol, Elise Chabbey was chasing me! 

The race was won by Marta Cavalli (FDJ), followed by Clara Koppenburg (Cofidis), Évita Muzic (FDJ), Paulina Rooijakkers (Canyon-SRAM) and then me in fifth, 1:32 behind the leader.

It was everything I’d ever imagined. I got to do my first press interview and then there was a young rider who wanted their picture taken with me. It was one of the best races I’ve ever done. I’ve seen it on TV and always dreamed about doing it. 

CD: Wow. That sounds incredible. How do you top that and what’s next? 

KC: I’m currently recovering and relaxing in Scotland and soon I’ll be heading to Italy and then Girona to do some training. I’m planning on doing some kermesse racing in Belgium. Kermesse races are multiple laps of a small 5-10km course around a city. They’re huge in Belgium and it’s usually where World Tour teams send their scouts to look out for new riders. 

The whole NSC team is so proud of Kim’s performances and can’t wait to see how she goes in her upcoming events. If you’d like to keep up to date with Kim’s results, you’ll find them at Pro Cycling Stats. If you’d like to relive that epic race up Mont Ventoux, you can watch it here.

Kim rides the NS38’s on hilly days and the NS50’s on flatter days and for criteriums.

All photos - Directvelo