A strong eight rider Australian women’s team is primed ahead of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, which got underway on Sunday in Richmond, USA.
2014 team members Tiffany Cromwell (SA), Katrin Garfoot (QLD) Rachel Neylan (NSW), Loren Rowney (QLD) and Lizzie Williams (VIC) are joined by former Australian representatives Gracie Elvin (ACT), Amanda Spratt (NSW) and Lauren Kitchen (NSW) in a team full of talent.
The women’s time trial features on Wednesday 23 September, while the road race will be held on the Championships’ penultimate day, Saturday 26 September.
2015 has been a successful year to date for Australian’s female cyclists having taken 16 international wins and multiple top ten finishes in major stage races. The results have seen Australia jump from ninth to fourth in the UCI nation rankings.
The strength of results throughout the year with see Australia field the largest team in Richmond with eight, the seven-rider maximum plus Oceania Champion position filled by Kitchen.
“For us, as the fourth ranked nation in the world, we have the biggest team entered in the road race with eight riders, seven who have won races this year but not a single rider ranked in the top 20 in the World,” Senior Women’s Road Coach Martin Barras told Cycling Australia.
“It spells out our race: we will play our numbers against individual opponents and have to ally ourselves with other teams willing and able to use their numbers.”
The women’s 129.6km road race on Saturday 26 September will cover eight laps of a 16.2km inner-city circuit around downtown Richmond. The technical circuit will prove challenging, especially the three cobbled climbs. After a mostly flat first half the final four kilometres will be crucial.
First is the 200 metre cobbled Libby Hill Park climb, followed by a descent heading in to a shorter 100 metre cobbled climb up 23rd Street.
Over the top riders descend in to the final Governor Street climb, 300 metres before a final false flat section of just under 700 metres to the finish.
“I have always loved coming to America and having the Worlds in Richmond will be a big and spectacular event. Since getting here we can clearly feel the buzz the event is bringing to the locals,” said Barras.
“The circuits are interesting and different to what we are used to in Europe. They are much closer in nature to the circuits used for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, with lots of urban riding in sheltered conditions and a cluster of short nasty hills in the last four kilometres of the road course. This will very much define the racing.
“The world’s best will be able to sort themselves out over this final portion of the circuit, but the rest of the course will be managed by the strongest teams.”
In the time trial, reigning Oceania Champion and 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Katrin Garfoot will line up in the green and gold.
“Garfoot has had a solid year with a fourth place in the time trial at the Giro Rosa in July and sixth place at the recent Holland Ladies Tour time trial,” said Barras. “She is ready for a solid improvement that will mark her progression since finishing 11th in the discipline last year.”
Tiffany Cromwell has been Australia’s top finisher in the road race the last two years, finishing fifth and seventh, which has allowed her to grow as a team leader.
“I can absolutely take confidence from those results, I’ve been growing confidence every year at the world championships,” Tiffany Cromwell told Cycling Australia.
“Learning to be patient, take the pressure of being a team leader, allow my team to do the work and then play at the business end of the race. It’s taught me that I know I can be there in the final, I’m tactically smart enough, strong enough physically and I’m capable of big results.”
2015 has been a very consistent season for Cromwell in Europe, with her final preparation has been the Tour de l’Ardeche, where she finished ninth overall and second at the Chrono Champenois time trial.
“I’ve been satisfied with my season but I’m still striving for more,” remarked Cromwell. “I have always been around the mark, plenty of top tens with a few podiums too, I’ve improved in a few areas but I was hoping for a bit more from myself, a few bigger results and individual victories.
“The season is not over yet and my biggest goal I set myself this season has been the World Championships, so hoping I can finish the season with a bang.
“I think this year Australia goes into the world championships with probably one of our strongest teams that I’ve been a part of, on a course that suits us well.
“That really excites me as I think we’ll have a number of cards we can play.”
The sentiment was echoed by Loren Rowney who will contest her third Championships.
Following injury in the first part of the season, the second half of 2015 has been successful for Rowney who has taken two stage wins at Route de France and Trophee d Ór in August
“I have mixed feelings about this season. I felt I had the best form in the early spring that I’ve ever had and after crashing and breaking my collarbone in March, it took me a long time to get back to this point, where I feel good again,” Loren Rowney said to Cycling Australia. “But I’m really happy with my current form, and the opportunities I have been given racing with the Australian Women’s Development Team.”
“I’m really excited to finish off the season on a strong note, with a super strong team for the world championships.
“Across the board, Aussies have been kicking butt. It’s really great to see, and I can’t wait to see what we can deliver on the day!”