Adversity quite often tends to carry with it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit and Finn Ashe goes a grinding long way to lend credence to that edict.
It took a horrific gash on Ashe’s left foot at his home four years ago to steer him into the high-octane path of cycling.
“It happened on Christmas Day and I had accidentally cut open my foot with glass,” says the 16-year-old from Hastings after he clinched the B grade king of the mountains title during the three-day, TSB-sponsored Hawke’s Bay Tour when it ended on Sunday.
• CYCLING: Yates breaks veterans’ domination in final race
• Cycling: Cyclist admits drug use
• Cycling: Gough’s golden glow on world stage continues
Ashe’s impressive rise in the discipline is no fluke. He had clinched the bragging rights to the D grade on the same tour last year.
No doubt, the year 12-bound St John’s College pupil is mindful he’s on a collision course with the elite men’s king of the mountains winner, Charlie Tattersfield, of Napier Boys’ High School, on Sunday.
At the weekend, after the 8km time-trial on Friday, Ashe won the king of the mountains crown in the 56km road race on Saturday before following it up with another win in the 84km on the same day and a third place in the second leg.
On Sunday, he registered a second, first and second on the three climbs over the 80km fourth stage in just his second Bay tour.
Ask him what is his secret, Ashe replies: “Yeah, well, I’m skinny and I’m light.”
His 64kg, 1.82m stature is growing into the specialised Tarmac SL4 elite bike frame for maximum traction on the grunts up the hills on the Taihape Rd, Ohiti Rd and Crownthorpe Rd circuits.
Ashe was jumping around that Christmas Day when he smashed a few glass bowls before stumbling on them.
The shattered glass had severed through the tendons of the former St Mary’s School pupil.
“They fixed it all up but the physiotherapist told me that cycling would be really good for getting all my movements back.”
The youngster made a beeline for the HB Ramblers Cycling Club after his non-cycling parents, Shari and Tom Ashe, bought him a basic bike.
“I was straight into it but my cousins were doing it [cycling] so that helped.”
After a year of cycling in the G grade Ashe found his foot tendons were responding just as the physiotherapist had forecast.
So where does his appetite for devouring hills come in?
“Oh I’ve always been a climber. I’ve always been able to go up hills fast.”
Just before the tour at the weekend, the teenager had set a target with his coach, William Green, of Hastings, to grunt at the right times to slip on the polka red dot jersey.
Ashe laughs when you ask him if he will need to start nipping at the heels of Tattersfield although their paths haven’t crossed, bar the odd junior tours.
“Maybe in a couple of years.”
He hopes to do the Tour of Southland over that duration, about the time he feels his constitution will be in a better place, too.
“I’ll be stronger and I’ll have more years of coaching.”
During the Saturday club races, Ashe is an A grader but during the such tours those with pedigree tend to transcend to the elite ranks. He hopes to be in the A grade of the tour next year.
Ashe, who puts in about nine hours of training a week, isn’t sure when he’ll start pushing the overall winner’s title but recognises it’ll require cycling smarts as well.
He allows himself the licence to dream of an overseas stint, with the Tour de France as the ultimate.
2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Dylan Kennett, of South Canterbury, was the overall men’s elite winner while Olympian Regan Gough, of Central Hawke’s Bay, claimed the sprint bragging rights.
Glen Carabine, of Tauranga, won the overall B grade crown with Jonathan Atkinson, of Auckland, claiming the sprint honours.
Professional Kennett’s partner, Kate McCarthy, of Te Awamutu, was the toast of the women’s elite grade as well as going on to claim the overall C grade title.
From the TSB Hawke’s Bay Tour on Saturday:
• A grade (elite men): Overall winner Dylan Kennett.
King of the mountain: Winner Charlie Tattersfield.
Sprint: Winner Regan Gough.
• B grade: Overall winner Glen Carabine.
King of the mountain: Winner Finn Ashe.
Sprint: Winner Jonathan Atkinson.
• C grade: Overall winner Kate McCarthy.
King of the mountain: Winner Cameron Senior.
Sprint: Winner Philipp Vranek.
• D grade: Overall winner Marcus Fellowes.
King of the mountain: Winner Tyler Mumby.
Sprint winner: Rick Day-Measure.