McMurray a cycling “master”

Jim McMurray, wearing the first-place rainbow jersey he earned at the 2016 world champs, shows off his Male Masters Road Cyclist of the Year Award.

A Cambridge cyclist took out a massive title at this year’s Cycling New Zealand Sports Awards, winning the Male Masters Road Cyclist of the Year Award – the single biggest category of the night covering eight age groups.

Jim McMurray was awarded the title on May 19 after fantastic achievements throughout 2017, which included top finishes at the World Masters Games, the UCI World Champs and the 120km Amy’s Gran Fondo in Australia.

The humble Horahora resident said it was “pretty cool” and “exciting” to have won the award after competing on the world stage for the past six years. “It was just exciting to even get the nomination, and then to get called up,” Jim said, “I was just overwhelmed, it was pretty cool to be honoured and be recognised in cycling.

“To make a new category to honour (masters) athletes is pretty cool.”

Jim is the first person to receive the award, an undoubtedly deserves it after phenomenal finishes on the world stage. “I had a good year,” he said with a smile. The string of successes last year started with the World Masters Games in Auckland in April, where Jim scored gold twice, in the time trial and road race, including beating several former Tour de France riders. “That’s the ultimate test, to go to the world stage and see how you compare,” said the 55- 60 age group rider, who managed to finish a full nine minutes ahead of ex Commonwealth Games cyclist Graham Millar.

At the UCI World Champs in Albi, France in August, Jim finished second in the time trial and fourth in the road race and plans to compete for the top spots again this year when the competition moves to Italy. He also competed in the UCI World Champs in 2016, finishing first and second respectively.

The other top competition that helped earn Jim’s award was his fantastic result at the Amy’s Gran Fondo cycle race in Australia, where he was up against 350 international competitors in his age group alone. Jim cycled so fast he left his own age group in the dust, catching up to the next division below them, and beating that group by over five minutes. “Race hard, play hard,” he said with a smile.

Jim’s wins across 2017 are just a snapshot of the wide range of achievements he’s made to date, winning several regional, national and international cycle races, and even setting the UCI one hour world record at the Avantidrome in 2016, for the masters 55 – 59 age group.

“I’m quite humbled with it,” Jim said of the award. “I like the idea that someone might be inspired and keep racing and riding because of it.”

Readers south of town may already recognise Jim, who delivers the Cambridge News along with mail and other publications to residents in RD1 Tirau, including Piarere and Karapiro. He laughed and said it was rather ironic that he’s now appearing in the Cambridge News as well as delivering it. The modest man said his moment in the spotlight wasn’t about promoting himself, but “promoting cycling and a healthy lifestyle”.

Jim also competed at the New Zealand Age Group National Championships in recent weeks, winning both the 78km road race and 25km time trial.

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