There was no rest for the wicked following the team time trial with Orica-AIS at the Road World Championships in September this year. I chose to try and keep my form, swapping from the road, straight back to the track before the Oceania Championships in Adelaide during the second week of October.
Thankfully my Team Time Trial training had me in fine form for the track and the transition wasn’t too difficult as I managed to pull off wins in both the Oceania Individual Pursuit and Omnium. This was a nice stepping stone for me before the first World Cup of the 2014/2015 season which was to be held in Guadalajara, Mexico from November 7-9.
A team of 16 athletes and 9 staff members left Australia on the 2nd of November, bound for a land of tacos and sombreros. Little did they know they would be standing on the dais as the most successful nation at the upcoming World Cup. That came down to a fine attention to detail from coaches, support staff and great management which allowed the athletes to focus completely on the task at hand.
Racing commenced on the Friday, with the Team Pursuit and Team Sprint qualifying for both men and women. Our race didn’t exactly go to plan. After a short, but successful training camp with teammates Rebecca Wiasak, Georgia Baker, Elissa Wundersitz and coach, Gary Sutton in Adelaide, things were looking positive for this relatively new, young team. Successful trials in training gave us confidence about our team plan, but unfortunately, the high of race day certainly got the better of us.
As the team starter, I went out way too hard. We were up to a schedule above that of which we could hold for four kilometres, but Elissa also came through hard and lifted the pace even more. Bec accidentally miss-timed her start and didn’t actually get onto the wheel (and out of the wind) for two laps, so by the time she and Georgia made it to the front, they were already fatigued. This was not ideal. We ‘hit the wall’ big time, and went slower and slower each kilometre. Thankfully it was finally over, although the air pressure at altitude didn’t allow the pain to subside for a further ten minutes.
The track at Guadalajara resides at 1566m above sea level. For those who have yet to experience the effects of altitude, it takes away your breath and elevates your heart rate exponentially, the higher you rise above sea level. It also affects different people in different ways, which is why it was so interesting to see how certain riders coped throughout the racing over the weekend.
Due to our impressive first kilometre, we really hit the system hard and paid for it in the second half of the race. It took me a further ten to fifteen minutes to finally breathe at a normal pace again after the race had finished. Had we completed a smooth race, without much drop off, our breathing would have been much more controlled, as was the case the following day in the second round of the team pursuit.
Thankfully, the International Cycling Union (UCI) had just implemented a new format of racing, like the Olympics , where three rounds of the team pursuit had to be run. Essentially, if you qualify in the top 8 you still have a chance of making the bronze medal ride in the following round. Those who qualify in the top four can also make the ride-off for gold.
In the second round we fixed our errors and rode to perfection. Each girl did a brilliant job, ensuring the pace was kept high and that all energy was used up by the final lap. We worked so well together and couldn’t have done any better. We improved our time by over four seconds, and managed to jump up into 5th position. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for the bronze medal ride-off, but we also managed to execute the plan in the third and final round to secure our 5th position over Cuba.
This was a result we could go home with. Although we wouldn’t be standing on a podium, we knew we had given it our best shot. We had overcome mistakes, ridden a very decent time for a team with our background and could go home with our heads held high.
I always love racing with passionate people. I lined up alongside a 19year-old and a 20year-old, both keen to learn and give absolutely everything to step up into the senior ranks of the Australian Women’s Track Endurance program. I also lined up alongside a woman who entered the sport at a later date, who absolutely revels in the chance to be able to represent her country and who too, wants desperately to be a part of the key members leading into preparations for Rio 2016. This is what I love about the team pursuit. Four ladies who want it, more than anything. Four ladies who are prepared to ride themselves into to the ground to ensure the team passes that finish line, after sixteen laps, in the fastest possible way. It really does make for a very special event.
The rest of the Australian team did a brilliant job. Our young team pursuit boys took home gold in a blistering time of 3minutes 55s over four kilometres. Not bad for a quartet with an average age of just 18.5! Our team sprint combination of Stephanie Morton and Kaarle McCulloch took home gold and young Matthew Glaetzer brought home a gold and silver in the sprint and keirin, amongst other great team results.
It was my first time to Mexico and it was a trip that I really enjoyed. Thanks to the organisation of Cycling Australia, everything went smoothly and we, as athletes really had it easy. We even managed to miss the food poisoning that struck one of the three race hotels..!
Now it’s time to go home. I’ll have a short break; my first since February, before I start to rebuild towards the start of the new year. Gee how time flies!