Nick Schultz – The Ultimate Professional
Last night saw Nick Shultz aka Schultzie, a Brisbane born cycling statesman (not the aggressive full back for the Philadelphia Flyers- for all our Canadian readers) launch himself out of the safety of the Vuelta peloton to begin an uncomfortable day in the breakaway, under the scorching rays of the Spanish sun. The last sentence, for mine, sums up Schultzie – this guy works and works and works and works and then works a little more before working again if he is still not where he wants to be – in last night's scenario, it was in pursuit of stage victory. As a result, he has progressed through numerous trade teams, overcome seasons that normally end athlete's careers, signed at the Pro Continental level of the sport, now riding a Grand Tour and in the opportunistic breakaway last night – that is Nick Schultz!
After a prosperous junior career, in November 2012 Schultzie and myself were on a ten-man bunch ride through the Adelaide hills, having a good old yarn about what our futures hold and how on earth we were going to progress to a professional career. It was the AIS selection camp for the 2013 National Team, Schultzie was fresh out of juniors and the passionate 19-year-old was weaving the tale about the French amateur squad he had signed for and how at the end of January he would be moving to a country French village….. I was a year older but couldn’t grasp the thought moving to a foreign country to spend a full season (Feb to October) with a foreign amateur team. Schultzie was taking the bull by the horns! At that point in time, he was deserving of a hand painted custom oil painting of himself literally taking the bull by the horns. He had so much confidence heading forward, not in an arrogant way but in a visionary, directional manner – he knew what he wanted and he was going to get it!
Schultzie spent the coming two years grrrrrrrrinnnddddinng!!!!! – he was in a small French village, with not an English speaker in sight, his family was 16,547 km away and he was in the depths of French culture. But… he knew what he wanted! He was always forward thinking, always working towards the end goal. From an outsider's perspective, this allowed the Brisbane boy to overcome the continual challenges he faced and progress his career.
Now pressing forward to 2015, we were on the same team racing Tour of Alsace and Tour de L'Avenir and Schultzie had broken the Euro code! He had learnt French, changed his ways to suit their culture and when we were at these races it was like he was at home – in contrast, the rest of the team were flapping in the breeze like uncomfortable tourists trying not to make fools of themselves. I (3 European seasons down) was still an Australian that walked around like a baby giraffe on wet tiles and that doesn’t cut it in the relentless sport cycling is. You have to adapt, you have to make Europe your home, you can't be thinking about getting back to Australia for finals football in September if you really want to make it as a pro in the cycling heartland! There is so much more to it than taking an Australian cyclist over to Europe that has some horsepower and Schultzie’s got that and plenty more. I admire Schultzie’s cycling career and moving forward he deserves everything he achieves as a professional. On top of this, he is still a genuine Australian lad!
For future juniors making the jump to the European Under 23 ranks, I would recommend using him as a template to put yourself in the best possible position for success!
See you back at the social club,