Eager to use his experience in Europe to contest for a top-10 result, 29-year-old Kona Factory team rider Cory Wallace will represent Canada at the UCI Marathon World Championships on Sunday, June 29.
Wallace caught the eye of the serious racers during the past 18 months after back-to-back wins in the Mongolia Challenge and claiming the Canadian national title and the Otaki 120 race in Japan. Wallace also earned two stage wins in the tough Crocodile Trophy in Australia in 2013.
After shaking off illness at the start of this year, the Jasper, Alberta native again made headlines by winning the Australian marathon series title in the final race of the series.
Wallace feels that his career is on a solid trajectory, and he hopes to make an impact on the 2014 marathon world title decider in Pietermaritzburg.
"I have raced many of these guys at different races around the world, and I know I can ride with all but a handful of them if I stay focused and keep a positive spin on things," said Wallace. "It sounds like the course is pretty balanced so the climbing goats may suffer a little and it is somewhat technical which should help as well."
"It is my first Worlds, so I plan on getting into the mix early to give myself a chance to be in contention later on in the race and fight for a top position," said Wallace. "A top 10 would be amazing, a top 15 or 20 maybe more realistic."
Wallace feels that the grounding from racing on the notoriously tough European circuit will stand him in good stead.
"Last year, our team came to Europe to take part in the Bike 4 Peaks and AlpenTour races. They were eye openers for us as we are used to riding loads of singletrack back in North America, not climbing on fireroads for 2000-3000 meters of vertical a day," he said.
"It has helped us become fitter which, combined with our trail riding skills, made us nearly unstoppable back on our side of the ocean.
"This year I knew it would be key to come race the AlpenTour in Europe before Worlds to push myself deep into the pain cave to prepare for the talent that there will be in South Africa. The riding over here is purely fitness based, which makes it the perfect place to get some good form into the legs.
"Being in Europe will also help adjust to the same time zone as South as well as the chance to purely focus on training and recovery without the distractions of being at home.
"After the AlpenTour travels, I headed to Italy to race the Sellronda Hero and am doing some last prep with the Mongolia Bike Challenge crew. It is always fun to come over to the hub of the cycling world as the riders are really talented and everything is done really professionally over here in Europe."
Wallace started off with his sights set on a career in ice hockey, and only rode as part of his fitness routine.
"When my hockey career didn't pan out, I switched over to racing full time at 23 and I have enjoyed travelling the globe and meeting new people at races in some pretty interesting places!" he said.