Chasing the Rainbow Again
I have now returned from my last race as a junior at the World Junior Road
and Track Cycling Championships which were held in Austria from August 7th-
14th. As part of this adventure I had a two week track camp in
Sydney with the endurance squad before heading to Italy for three weeks
with the road team.
finished off my 2nd Italian experience on a high note when I
won the Gran Premio Banca di Credito Cooperative Pordenonese – a 12kms
individual time trial, the last major hit-out before the worlds. Although
happy with the result it was certainly a tough day in the office- 35
degree heat, coupled with some heavy legs made for a tough battle in winds
but constant screaming and yelling from the car behind helped me keep my
focus…and a trophy, a cute duck, beauty products and thermometer I won
will always come in handy!
following day Cameron Meyer and I left behind the beautiful pizza and
gelati….not that I ate that
much (nudge, nudge)….and headed up by plane to Vienna to meet up with
the track team. It was a rather daunting trip for me at
times…..especially when the plane started making loud noises as it
headed down to land! So after squeezing all the life out of the arm rest
of my chair we found ourselves in Vienna, looking to quickly get our track
for me, the track form came back from pretty much the first session and I
felt right at home. We had 5 days back on the track before competition
started. My first race was on the 2nd night of competition and
was the 20kms points race. This was the race that I won last year and I
guess it was always going to be hard to defend the title. Despite this I
headed out determined to have a good ride. In the first 4 sprints I got
two 1st places and a 2nd and was leading
comfortably. Unfortunately for me, 3 girls went for a lap after a sprint
that I had led out for 2.5 laps….bad timing, they could have at least
warned me! Despite my best efforts to chase, no-one else was committed to
bringing back the break and they gained a lap, giving them an extra 20
points each. Swiss rider Andrea Wolfer won the title with our Kiwi friend
Rushlee Buchanan in 2nd and myself in 5th. Despite
the fact that I did not reclaim my title, I am still extremely satisfied
with my ride. I guess there is always that element of ‘what if?’ but I
gave it my best shot on the day.
next morning (no rest for the wicked!) I had the individual pursuit
qualifying. I qualified in 2.30.374 which gave me 3rd position.
Bianca Rogers, also from Australia qualified in 1st. The finals
that night saw me riding against Kimberly Geist from America. I raced
against her last year as well, but this year she was too strong and I
simply didn’t have the legs, dropping by 3 seconds from my qualifying
time….I am working on that! Bianca had a rather odd warm-up which
involved getting smashed in the back by a Greek sprinter who failed to
look where he was going during a flying 200m in warm-up. Bianca is a tough
nut and despite an extremely sore back that affected her start, she
battled it out to take the silver medal being narrowly beaten by Ukrainian
other events bronze medals were won by the pursuit team, madison boys,
team sprint boys and Scott Sunderland in the kilo. The last night was a
memorable one for the Aussies with Chloe MacPherson and Skye-Lee Armstrong
winning the kieren and scratch race and picking up a rainbow jersey
following morning the trackies-turned-roadies drove up to Oberwart to join
the road team. We stayed in a lovely motel, full of chocolate- literally.
As we walked into the reception we were greeted with a chocolate fountain
and whole room full of different types of freshly made chocolates…it
certainly was helpful in improving my willpower…but let’s just say
that on the last night, you knew where to find me!
time trial this year was 15kms in length- an out and back circuit, and
pancake flat, and I mean FLAT! I was hoping for a good result this year
after my bronze medal last year and felt confident going into the event.
As I rolled down the starting ramp all I could hear was the sound of rain
hitting my aero helmet as I started my ride into the headwind – nothing
like a bit of rain and wind to make things interesting! I felt like I was
missing something in the time trial, like I couldn’t get the power into
the pedals that I would normally be able to, and found it hard to get into
a rhythm on the way out. With a tailwind on the way back, I paced myself
well and crossed the line to finish in 10th place. I had been a
bit sick with a cold during and after this event but I don’t want to go
making excuses. I had a bad day and I guess along with the disappointment
was the frustration with the fact that I felt as if I could have ridden
better had my legs allowed me to. But I know that it is those sort of
disappointing days that will motivate me more in the future.
only one day to recover, Bianca, Tiff Cromwell and I lined up on a
beautiful Sunday morning, with 70kms of undulating, hard, gut-wrenching
riding ahead of us. With the first 4 placegetters from last year in the
race again this year, it was going to be a tough one. I had a really good
warmup, but the legs just didn’t seem to agree with the road that lay
ahead. We completed 5 laps of the course that involved several short,
steep hills and one main 2kms climb. I found myself struggling a
bit…well a lot today…to stay with the frontrunners and seeing my name
painted on the road on the climb as I had my head down, elbows bent,
biting the handlebars definitely helped
(thanks Zak, Rik and Gary!) With one lap to go Tiff and I were
still in the front group. On the final climb Marianne Vos (last year’s
winner) and Mei Bekker Lacota attacked up the road. They were not far
ahead but far enough to eventually take the top two placings with Lacota
taking the rainbow jersey. In the sprint for third I had nothing left in
the tank and rolled in for 25th place, with Tiff not too far
year has definitely been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but it has taught
me a lot. The road race did not have the desired outcome, and I wonder how
things could have turned out if I had felt better on the day. But I had
the best ride that I could have had in the circumstances, and at the end
of the day, it was just another bike race. Besides, as the coaches always
say, it builds character! There is always going to be down times and times
when I won’t be going as well as I want to but I am determined to turn
the disappointments into positives and get on with the job – I have
plenty more bike races ahead of me!
am now enjoying a break off the bike while I fit back into ‘normal
life’- get back into some school work – yes I am in year 12 with an
HSC looming!, turn 18 finally, and catch up with family, friends and all
those who have given me so much help and support. The support of family,
friends, coaches and my sponsors Shimano, Briko and Kuota have made the
‘ride’ along the way a lot easier! As far as cycling goes I now move
up into the senior ranks, and whilst the thought of no longer being a
junior after so many years is a bit daunting I am eager and motivated to
make a good start!
Postscript – No account of my time overseas this year would be complete without reference to the terrible accident in Germany that claimed the life of Amy Gillett and seriously injured five of our top riders. I had the privilege of racing with these women in my first lead up race in Italy and was due to race the Tour of San Marino with them after they came back from Germany. It is impossible to describe how I felt when I heard the news - it was just horrible and it was so hard to refocus on what we were supposed to be doing. I was so lucky to receive the support that I did from my coaches, team-mates, some of the pro-women and the AIS staff - they were just fantastic. It was hard to concentrate on the racing but hearing regular reports on the great progress of the girls was inspiring and it helped me along. Now when I hear how well they are doing with their recovery it makes anything seem possible.
We will all miss you Amy.
Thanks to Amanda Spratt and CycleSportNews.com for granting permission to use this article
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