Ryan Christensen

We grabbed Ryan Christensen for a quick Q&A

Ryan Christensen hails from New Zealand and is tackling road and gravel races with help from Handsling Bikes. The UK brand are supplying Ryan with their A1R0evo for road racing and the CEXevo for gravel/cross. He’s just back from racing at the Wörthersee Gravel Race, where he took 4th racing against some familiar names from the pro scene.

Ryan Christensen on his way to 4th at the Wörthersee Gravel Race
Ryan Christensen on his way to 4th at the Wörthersee Gravel Race

How did you start cycling, was there a person that got you going?

Sports have been a big part of my life growing up. I thought my pathway as an athlete would be football with representing NZ as early as 10 years old. It was only when my sister was involved in a nasty car crash and helping with her rehab that we both started to ride a road bike together at the age of 13. I joined the local Hamilton city cycling club where I caught the bug of racing and that winning feeling. My dad pushed me in that direction and I committed to just cycling when I was 15. I joined the school cycling programme and the rest is history.

What type of riding do you prefer?

I prefer a classics, one-day specialist type of rider. A rider that has to be strong, but also very smart in how they race.

On the road Ryan Christensen rides Handsling's A1R0evo
On the road Ryan Christensen rides Handsling’s A1R0evo

And what kind of rider would you describe yourself as?

I guess you could say I’m more of a rouleur. A rider that can be out into any kind of race, hilly or flat and be able to do a job, or take their opportunity for the win as well.

What’s been your best memory on the bike?

Elite road world champs in Glasgow 2023. The opportunity to represent my country on the biggest stage cycling has to offer and show off the jersey while up the road in the break. We were caught after 200 km and managed to finish after such a hard day. For those that want to see the stats take a look at my Strava:

Ryan Christensen World Championship's ride
Ryan’s World Championship’s ride

What is the cycling scene in NZ like?

I would say it’s competitive, but being so far from the rest of the world and being a smaller country, the depth of field is small. We have two UCI level races in early January that allow NZ riders to compare their ability to a few foreign teams that make the trip. It’s very hard to make it in cycling, you have to pack up your life at a young age and move to Europe to pursue a career racing in bigger events week in, week out.

Ryan has represented New Zealand on the road

You were riding for NZ’s Black Spoke team, which had to fold. Would you prefer to be riding for a NZ team again?

The two years I spent on Blackspoke are going to remain with me forever. The culture in the team was amazing. We all raced each other in one way or another growing up, so to experience racing together in Europe brought a new found respect for how we got there. I would jump at the opportunity to ride for a NZ team again for sure.

How difficult is life as a privateer racer?

I’m not going to lie and say it’s smooth sailing. Finding sponsors to support ambitions of being at the top – whether that’s financial or equipment – has been hard. The cycling industry at the moment is not in a great place so finding people or companies is difficult. You also have to be very organised in planning race logistics far in advance, sometimes up to two months in advance. I’ve been pretty lucky in the aspect of being a part of teams where all that is sorted for you, so had to learn quickly.

Ryan had a good showing at New Zealand's National Road Champs.
Ryan had a good showing at New Zealand’s National Road Champs.

Handsling are your bike sponsors, how did you hear about them?

Handsling have been involved in the UK cycling scene for a while and are only growing. Whether that’s seeing them sponsor elite/conti teams or other privateers, they were on my radar to talk to for a while.

Which of their bikes are you riding on?

I am racing on the A1R0evo for road races and also CEXevo for gravel races

Are you a kit obsessed rider, or do you just ride?

Definitely Kit obsessed, I love to go as fast as possible. So if I can gain extra speed, whether that’s with aero-kit or tinkering with my bike to find those extra watt savings, then I’ll do everything I can.

Ryan Christensen went to Handsling to build his A1R0evo before heading back to NZ for the National Champs
Ryan went to Handsling to build his A1R0evo before heading back to NZ for the National Champs

Like all Antipodeans you’re a bit of a traveller, what so far, has been your favourite country/place to ride?

I was lucky enough to race in Rwanda in 2023. It gave me a new sense of appreciation of how lucky I am to be travelling the world and riding my bike. The locals there were so friendly and lined the streets from start to finish to cheer us on.

And what’s the worst bit about travelling with a bike?

The stress thinking if your bike will make it to the destination safely when you check it in at the airline counter.

You’ve got a 4+ hour training session, mid-ride café stop, yes or no?

Definitely yes! Can’t beat a caffeine hit

And is it a 5 minute grab and go, or proper sit down?

Sit down and a social yarn with mates.

Thanks for your time Ryan!

Next up for Ryan is an appearance in the UK National Road Series in Cleveland. Following that he’s off to Spain for round two of the UCI world gravel series, La Indomable. Five days later and he’s racing round six the Giro Sardegna Gravel on the island of Sardinia. To finish off a busy month, he then heads back to the UK and the CiCLE Classic. The rest of the year will include more rounds of the UCI Gravel World Series, Unbound and Trakka. Ryan will even sneak in the odd MTB race like the Alp Epic, because, why not!

That is a lot of travelling and racing, here’s hoping it all goes to plan for him. You can follow Ryan on his Instagram feed and we’ll let you know how his season goes.

Read our previous Q&A with Francesca Selva.

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