Ryan Christensen is determined to make a name for himself in Europe after signing for Canyon Eisberg.
The 21-year-old New Zealander has revealed his delight in taking the next major step in his cycling career with Tim Elverson’s UCI Continental outfit.
He has been bowled over by the welcome he has received from the squad and is confident he will learn a lot from his new team-mates.
Christensen, who hails from Hamilton, was set to race the three-leg Nations’ Cup with the Kiwi under-23 team until injury struck at the 11th hour.
Now he is relishing his second chance at a European campaign as he aims to build momentum for the World Championships in Austria in September.
Christensen, who caught the eye of sports director Elverson while riding to 18th place as a guest at the East Cleveland Klondike Grand Prix, said:
“Originally I was coming over to ride for the New Zealand national team at Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and the ZLM Tour.
“But three days before I left I broke my collarbone in a crash. I thought I’d still come over with my girlfriend (Ione Johnson), who rides for Team OnForm.
“I thought I’d just see how many races I could get in before the World Championships, which is my main goal at the end of the year.
“Klondike wasn’t a great result but I must have caught a few people’s eye. I then got in touch with Tim and everything has happened pretty quickly.
“I’m loving the atmosphere in the team. Everyone has been extremely welcoming and I feel like I’m fitting in pretty well, which is a bonus.
“I see this as a long-term move. It is a big step. But I’m looking to move over to Europe next year on a more permanent basis to see if I can progress through the ranks.
“Coming to Canyon Eisberg is the next step. I think it will suit me well being in such a big team with some big-name riders and I think I can learn a lot here.”
Christensen will now make his Canyon Eisberg debut in the under-25 UCI 1.2 Memorial Philippe Van Coningsloo in Belgium on Sunday.
All being well, he can then expect to return to the continent the following weekend when the team will race the Dwars door de Vlaamse Ardennen and Midden-Brabant Poort Omloop.
The Kiwi talent is confident his injury is firmly behind him and is now ready to kick on and show what he can do. Christensen added:
“I’m very happy with where I’m at. I gave the collarbone about seven weeks to ensure it was fully healed.
“I managed to come out of Klondike not too bad. It doesn’t give me any problems, so I’m very happy.
“My first race is this weekend and I’ll probably have more racing in the next week or so than I have had all year but I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’m a punchy rider. I like a good crit and I’m reasonably okay in a reduced-bunch sprint. But I won’t be worrying Harry or Charlie (Tanfield) in a time trial!
“We’ll have to see how the first race goes and see how I fit in. I’m not too sure on how my form is but I think I’ll be all right to mix it up.
“I’ll just have to see what the plan is with the guys and what my role will be. I just can’t wait to get stuck in.
“The atmosphere around racing in the UK is like nothing I have experienced before. I’m excited to see what happens for the rest of the year.”
Christensen finished 21st overall and fourth in the youth classification at the Herald Sun Tour in Australia in February.
The former Oliver’s Real Food Racing man was ninth on stage two, won by Trek Segafredo’s Mads Pedersen, after finishing 10th in the New Zealand Road Race Championship the previous month.
In 2016, at the age of 19, Christensen won the points jersey at the New Zealand Cycle Classic. The following year he was 14th on general classification.
Click here to read Tim Elverson’s take on the arrival of Ryan Christensen.