NEWS: Hosking lays down marker for Doha Worlds with Ladies Tour of Qatar sprint win

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Australian forgoes Olympics to focus on Worlds

Chloe Hosking (Wiggle-High5) is something of a rarity in the women’s peloton: a rider with no intention of trying to earn selection for the 2016 Olympic Games, though it’s certainly not for a want of ambition.

With the course for the Rio Games road race a particularly demanding one – Tiffany Cromwell has described the Vista Chinesa climb to “Mur de Huy times four” – Hosking had no hesitation in switching her focus to another prestigious race rather more tailored to her talents, the World Championshipsroad race in Doha at the end of the season.

“For sure that’s my big goal. I’m not going for the Olympics, so really from now I’m switching my head to the world championships in October,” Hosking said after winning the final stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar ahead of Kirsten Wild (Hitec Product) on Doha’s Corniche on Friday. An omen of things to come, perhaps?

In any case, Hosking will be among the few Worlds contenders who won’t have been building towards a peak in August. Even Wild, for instance, will be in Brazil on the track, and by the time October comes around, that relative freshness could stand Hosking in good stead.

“That’s definitely something my coach and I have thought about,” she said. “The reality is that I’m not going to be winning gold in Rio but I could be winning gold in Qatar, so I’m going to focus on that.”

Hosking’s fine sprint win on Friday helped to put a different complexion on what had been a disappointing Ladies Tour of Qatar for her Wiggle-High5 team. A team including Amy Pieters, Elisa Longo Borghini and Emma Johansson would have expected to have a representative in the decisive split on stage 3, for instance, but they made some amends by setting up Hosking for the win on the final day.

“We came here with a pretty stellar team and I don’t think our results really reflected the team we had here until today,” Hosking said. “When we came in for sure we wanted to prove a point and we did that. I’m really, really happy.

“The girls worked so hard to deliver me in the perfect position with 300 metres to go so it’s really nice that they put that faith in me even though I screwed up the first stage and I missed the move yesterday.”

For Hosking, the victory was her first since the Classic Morbihan in Brittany last May. A hand injury in July ended her 2015 season prematurely, and even after showing tangible signs of form in Australia in January, and again here earlier in the week, standing atop the podium as the sun began to dip behind the Doha skyline was a welcome confirmation.

“It is really important because I’ve actually been out of it for seven months. I raced in Australia but it’s just not the same as racing with girls at this level,” Hosking said. “Coming back from injury I wasn’t sure where I’d be at, so it’s a big relief to get a win here so early in the season.”

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My Ladies Tour of Qatar – Stage One

The Ladies Tour of Qatar finished a few days ago. I went into the race with high hopes but in the end had to settle for ninth overall, eight places less than what I had hoped for.

A journalist who had told me I was his pick came to me after the tour had wrapped up and said, ‘I’ll never tell you your my pick again.’ If I was a superstitious person I would definitely lay all the blame on him, but the realist in me says that might be a bit unreasonable.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom however, I did manage to claim a stage win in the final stage.

Throughout the Tour I kept daily diaries on Ella. I thought, just incase you weren’t an Ella reader I would repost them here but I encourage you to head on over to Ella and check out the original posts.


If you know me you know that I love returning to the desert year after year to race the Ladies Tour of Qatar. At the team presentation today the race commentator announced that the 2016 Tour is my seventh edition, I’ve ridden all but the first edition of the race, which began in 2009. It’s somewhat embarrassing, because it makes me feel about a hundred years old. I’m 25 I swear.

Why the love affair? There’s just something about the camels I guess. The looks they give me…

No, in all seriousness I just love the fast, aggressive racing that the flat, windy courses stimulate. Speaking with my roommate Dani King after today’s stage (she’s a Ladies Tour of Qatar virgin) she said, ‘you just have to fight all day’. I replied: ‘you definitely don’t really get the opportunity to relax in these races, that’s for sure.’

This year’s edition is made up of four stages; two new and two old.

Today’s 97km first stage of the Tour was also a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the Road World Championships, which will be held in Doha in October this year. The stage consisted of a long 75km or so loop before we entered a finishing circuit. In today’s stage we did one lap of the circuit, but I’m assuming we will do more in October.

What conclusions can be drawn after racing the (sort of) Worlds course? For the safety of the majority of the peloton, I hope the wind is blowing the camels sideways and a smaller group enters the finishing circuit. It is super technical with roundabouts, 180° corners and occasional traffic cones just scattering the side of the road (although I have a feeling these may be removed come October).

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Back to today and the first stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar.

My Wiggle High5 team had gone in to the race with a fairly open race plan. It’s always hard to know who is firing and what tactics other teams will be employing in — what for most riders — is the first race of the season.

We just wanted to stay at the front of the race and have numbers in any significant splits if they occurred. Some time bonuses at the two intermediate sprints and on the finishing sprint would be nice as well, but as my director said on numerous occasions, ‘we don’t need to show all our cards on day one’.

Side note: time bonuses play a crucial role in this Tour, they often determine who wins and who loses the overall after the four days of racing, as breakaways — excluding the echelon splits —are a rarity.

Before the stage we had highlighted a few danger points where we thought the crosswinds may play havoc; kilometer 18 and kilometer 35.

We were on the money with the second. As the peloton rocketed towards the 35km, mark you could feel the tension and nerves in the peloton building. It was like a toddler holding a pin above a balloon and looking at mum; you know they’re going to pop it, but you’re not entirely sure if it will be in a few seconds or a few minutes.

As we made a sharp left hand turn, the head wind we had been riding into turned into a crosswind and the balloon had been popped. Girls were scrambling to get to the front before too much damage had been done and gaps were too big to close anymore.

Boels-Dolmans were the main aggressors pushing the pace, riding the echelon and ‘guttering’ the rest of the peloton. Canyon-SRAM joined the party and soon the race was split. It wasn’t decimated like you can see happen in crosswinds, but the peloton of 90 had been reduced to 20 or so.

The first intermediate sprint came not long after and Kirsten Wild and I battled it out for the valuable time bonuses; Wild got the better of me clinching the three seconds for first. I had to settle for two seconds. Better than nothing, but not what I had been hunting for.

The bunch ended up reforming not long after. While the winds were strong, they weren’t strong enough to do any serious damage and the peloton entered the finishing circuit all together.

I can’t say I enjoyed the technical finishing circuit. The peloton was nervous, no-one knew where they were going exactly and everyone was fresh.

The second intermediate sprint came just 9km from the finish and my teammate, Emma Johannson, did a great job of positioning me for it. I ended up picking up another two bonus seconds with Chantal Blaak grabbing the three seconds. I was the virtual leader on the road, not that that really meant anything.

As the kilometres began to tick down, I found my team but it was chaotic. Riders and trains were going everywhere. The front of the peloton was being controlled by Boels, then Orica, then Cipollini, then Hitec.

“I’m not going to start second guessing it because I screwed up one sprint”

My team and I rounded the second last corner which came just under 2km from the finish about three riders back, but it was just Elisa Longo Borghini, Amy Pieters and I left. Emma had been caught behind and was making her way back. Fighting other riders and the wind, my legs definitely hadn’t recovered from the sprint seven kilometres before.

In the end, I went backwards in the sprint for the stage honours. All I could do was watch and see Wild, Cucinotta and Lizzie Williams battle for the stage win. They ended up finishing in that order.

I go into tomorrow’s second stage tied with Williams for third on the general classification. It’s not the end of the world. It’s definitely not the start I had envisioned for my Ladies Tour of Qatar, but as I said to my team manager Rochelle, ‘I know my form is good, I’m not going to start second guessing it because I screwed up one sprint’.

And as my director always says, ‘You’ve got to look on the bright side of life.’ Three more days to hunt down 9 seconds.

PRESS: Hosking Restores Team Morale With Final Tour Of Qatar Stage Victory

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Chloe Hosking ended what has been a mixed Ladies Tour of Qatar for the black and orange squad on a massive high note with victory in the final stage. The Australian sprinter managed to outpace ten-time Qatar stage winner Kirsten Wild on the Doha Corniche finish, at the end of the short, fast, 73km stage, with Monique van de Ree (Lares-Waowdeals) in third.

I think it was a sprint that I really actually thought about, leading into it,” Hosking said. “I definitely used what I’ve learned, riding with Egon [van Kessel] and Jolien [D’hoore] and obviously it worked out!

“We were doing circuits. There was a bit of wind, but it didn’t really have that much of an impact on the race. It sort of strung it out a bit, but it didn’t split it.”

Despite the flat course, which began at Doha’s Aspire Zone, there were a number of attempts to escape the peloton, including one from Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Olympic Champion Dani King. With so many sprinters in the peloton, however, a bunch finish was almost inevitable.

“There were three girls riding ahead – individually – but they never got together, so they were all riding time trials!” Hosking explained. “Coryn [Rivera, UnitedHealthcare] got around a minute, and then Dani went up the road with about four laps to go – and she got about 30 seconds. In the end though – this circuit is so fast – it all got back together and we came up with the goods!

“The girls were really great in the last two laps. We got together as a team and they pulled me up and put me in a perfect position!”

  
Hosking’s victory comes as a welcome morale-boost for Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling after poor results in stage three were described by Directeur Sportif Egon van Kessel as “the biggest disaster” since he has been with the black and orange team. Hosking’s lead out riders controlled the final kilometres perfectly, and placed their sprinter in the perfect place to launch herself to victory.

“That’s something that Egon has said to us,” Hosking explained. “He’s really proud that we raced yesterday, even though we screwed up, and then how we bounced back today. He said to us that we can really take a lot from that as a team.

“It was a really, really disappointing day for us yesterday, and it’s not an easy thing to just switch your mindset around,” she added. “Cycling is physical, but it’s also mental, so I think we did a great job in keeping the team spirit; then just saying ‘screw it’ and going out today and coming up with the goods.”

Thanks to her third place from the stage two breakaway, Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Amy Pieters finished her first race with the team in sixth place overall, just 53 seconds behind winner Trixi Worrack of Canyon-SRAM, while Hosking’s consistent finishing saw her placed ninth.

My Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

Geelong in summer is pretty much every Australian cyclists second home. Year after year we flock there for the ‘Bay Crits’ and now we flock there for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. The race burst onto the calendar last year with a mass participation event on the Saturday morning, a elite women’s race on the Saturday afternoon and a elite men’s event on the Sunday.

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Immediately after the race last year I tweeted that it was going on my list of favourites. This is not any easy list to make, no Tom, Dick and Harry race makes the list. It was competing with races like Strade Bianche, the Tour of Flanders and the Ladies Tour of Qatar. So when it was announced that in 2016 not only was the race returning but it was being upgraded to a UCI 1.2 event I was almost as excited as Kim Kardashian when she takes a good selfie.

Side note here; a UCI 1.2 event means the race was given points which contribute a rider’s world ranking. In a 1.2 event the first placed rider receives 40 points and the points decrease down the place rankings. World ranking and points are important because at the end of the day how many points you have can dictate your market value.

The Course

Despite some initial fears where I began to think we were potentially racing on the same finishing circuit that the men tackle I was relieved to discover the course was in fact the same as last year.

The course can be split into three sections; the flat, crosswind section; the undulating transition section; and the final short, sharp climbs to the finish.

Section 1:
Starting on Geelong’s waterfront the course looped out towards the coast on flat but exposed roads. Last year this section of the course was battered by cross winds and Orica worked hard to try and split the peloton in the winds. I had warned the girls that they needed to stay on high alert here because while we may not win the race here, we could lose it.

Section 2:
The second section of the course began around the 60km mark when the peloton moved from he flat roads out towards the coast to the undulating roads that brought us back in towards Geelong.

Section 3:
The final section of the course is characterised by four climbs which come in close succession in the final 20km of the race. What’s more, just because four back to back climbs isn’t hard enough crosswinds can also feature.

The first of the four climbs is a long steady drag (this is where I got dropped in 2015) before you bomb down a descent, take a sweeping left hand corner and then find yourself on a climb that at points reaches a 15% gradient. Imagine you’re Harry Potter looking up at Hagrid your first year at Hogwarts. I imagine beginning this climb feels very similar.

Two short, equally steep climbs follow before a gradual 6km descent to the finish on Geelong’s waterfront.

Race Day

We went into the race with a pretty open tactic; try and have as many numbers as possible when we get to the third section of the course and then play from there. Communication was going to be key.

Much to my dismay nothing really happened until after the first and only QOM which came about 57km in to the race. After comfortably cresting the climb I went back to the car to grab some water bottles for the girls (I set a new team record according to my team manager; 8 bottles in 30 seconds. I’m no hero, but I will keep you hydrated). By the time I’d returned to the front the whole composition of the race had changed.

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“There’s three girls off the front,” Peta reported to me when I asked her what was going on.

It wasn’t a red alert situation — we didn’t have a rider in the break, but Orica didn’t either — but it wasn’t the best situation. For the next ten or so kilometres the gap to the three ahead continued to grow. At the maximum they gained almost 2minutes.

As the kilometres started to tick down I went back to the car once more to talk to our directors. I didn’t even need to ask the question, as soon I got back to the car Alby (Allan Davis) told me we needed to start chasing.

Me: “Just one girl?”
Alby: “Yep”
Me: “Amy?”
Alby: “Yep”

Riding up to Amy I had to deliver the news. She jumped straight on the front and started rolling with the riders Orica, Specialized and Holden had also sent to the front. Still the gap remained stubbornly above 1 minute. Lucy Garner, another of our Brits, jumped in with Amy to contribute to the chase.

As we entered the third section of the course the breakaway had been nullified. You could feel the communal thought in the peloton; what now?

We didn’t have to wait for long for the question to be answer. With about 25km to go Sarah Roy jumped on the front up a long drag and starting increasing the pace. As she did so she also moved to the left hand side of the road. The wind wasn’t strong but it was definitely noticeable and blowing right to left. The increase in pace combined with the ‘guttering’ of the peloton caused havoc.

All of a sudden girls were scrambling and the elastic band was beginning to stretch. By the time we made a right hand turn and the road eased in gradient a lot of damage had been done. Orica started to launch individual attacks but they were closely covered.

Knowing the course, knowing that we still had four climbs to tackle before I could even think about my sprint, and knowing that Rachel is one of Australia’s best hill climbers left me about as willing to do a turn as Tony Abbot to give up his archaic views on gay marriage.

With a little more than 20km to go Rachel Neylan jumped on the left hand side of the road while what remained of the peloton caught their breath on the right. I followed her and all of sudden we had a 19 second gap on the group behind us.

Rachel started to glance around to see who she had brought across with her. I’m not entirely sure if she was happy or sad to see that I was her breakaway compatriot, still she started flicking her elbow and willing me to roll through. I started to prepare my standard response, ‘Sorry, I cant, my sprinter is behin…’ Oh wait, that’s me. I’m the sprinter.

Knowing the course, knowing that we still had four climbs to tackle before I could even think about my sprint, and knowing that Rachel is one of Australia’s best hill climbers left me about as willing to do a turn as Tony Abbot to give up his archaic views on gay marriage.

Still, I had to give her credit for her persistence in trying to make me do a turn. Rach actually knows my Mum, but I’m not sure Mum has ever told her that, ‘You can’t make Chloe do anything she doesn’t want to do.’

By the time we reached the top of the fourth last climb three girls had bridged up to us; my teammate Dani King, Tiff Cromwell and Rach’s teammate and Aussie national champ Amanda Spratt. Looking around the group I couldn’t help but laugh a little. I definitely did not belong in this group of hill climbers, still I’ve always hated not being invited to things, so I was happy to join the party.

It didn’t take long for Orica to begin to one-two Tiff, Dani and I. As I covered an attack from Spratty and then another from Rach I was pretty happy with my decision not to do a turn about 5 minutes earlier.

Ah, the cruel tricks climbs play on your perception of distance and time.

The bridge across has obviously taken a bit of sting out of Dani and Tiff legs as Tiff lost contact with our leading group and Dani managed to splutter out that she wasn’t feeling very good. I covered another attack by Rach before Spratty went from the back. I missed it. She was gone. This was a red alert situation.

People talk about split second decisions and reacting quickly in cycling. I made the wrong decision not to jump with Spratty and Dani and I reacted too slowly to begin our chase. By the time we started rolling Spratty had a gap of over 10seconds.

I drove it down the descent into the third last climb and used the sweeping left hand corner to sling-shot myself up the bottom half of the climb. I felt like I could almost reach out and grab Spratty. Ah, the cruel tricks climbs play on your perception of distance and time.

As we crested the climb there was less than 15km to race. I knew that if we as a team wanted to win the bike race either Dani or I had to sacrifice our chance of winning. Knowing the final two tough climbs yet to come I jumped straight on the front and tried to pull back as much time on Spratty as I could on the descent. Dani shot past me as the road went upwards again with Rach glued to her wheel. There wasn’t much left that I could do.

I scrambled for Tiff’s wheel as she caught me on the second last climb and we rode the next few kilometres alone until a group of three caught us on the gradual descent to the finish. I ended up winning the bunch kick for 4th.

Up the road Dani hadn’t been able to close the gap to Spratty. Amanda won with a little more than 30 seconds on Rach who beat Dani out of the minor placings.

In the end, it was communication that let us down. In that split second that Amanda went we didn’t talk and the race was over.

The race drew a curtain on my stint in Australia for the year. A few hours later I was loading onto a plane bound for Qatar with the rest of my Wiggle High5 squad.

It’s been a long six months in Australia. Flying home in July with a wrist injury was far from planned but I was so lucky to receive great treatment and support from everyone back home.

While I realise a lot of the people I’m about to name will never read this I’m going to thank them anyway.

A huge thank you has to go to all the amazing staff at the Australian Institute of Sport who took me on board and saw me daily for almost four months. So to my physios Paula, Lauren, and Tony; my doctors, Dr Greg Lovell and Dr David Hughes; my gym coach, Ross; my nurse, Ruth; and Hamilton who over saw the whole process, thank you!

My hand specialist who I saw off-site, Sally Faulder, was also such a huge support and I cannot thank her enough for everything.

A big thank you to those at Cycling Australia who are the reason that I received the amazing treatment that I speak about above and of course my incredible coach, Eric, who as always rolled with the punches and helped me just get on with things.

Last but not least, my amazing parents, who had to house and put up with me for four months longer than expected.
Thank you everyone. Stay tuned for more race reports from across the ocean.

My Mt. Buninyong

Oh hey, it’s been a minute. And because it has been, let’s be honest, a little bit longer than a minute, I should probably update you.

If my life was a soap opera I imagine the narrator’s summary of the last 6 months would go something like this; in July, after La Course by Le Tour I cut my hand on glass slicing my tendons in my pinky, ring and middle finger, rupturing an artery and partially cutting my ulnar nerve. This, as it turns out, is bad.

My season was over and all I could do was wait eight weeks…

Twelve hours after cutting my hand I underwent micro surgery in Paris.

48 hours after surgery I was back in Canberra and two days after this I was seeing a hand surgeon and specialist hand physio.

My season was over and all I could do was wait eight weeks for my hand to heal enough for me to start training somewhat normally.

How much movement and strength I would get back was totally unknown. It depended largely on how well the surgery went (I couldn’t tell you, my surgeon spoke French) and how diligent I was in my rehab. (I was pretty diligent; for three months I saw my specialist hand physio and a team of physios at the Australian Institute of Sport twice a day, five days a week. I did hand exercises that included staring at my pinky willing it to bend and waving my hand around my head like I was throwing a lasso six times a day, seven days a week and I slept in and wore a purple claw 24 hours a day.)

There were tears, there were regrets, there were many times I swore at myself, but at the end of the day I had to move on and formulate a plan.

Enter my coach, Eric Hakkonssen.

“So, did you crash, Chloe? What happened?” The first conversation I had with Eric post incident was slightly awkward.

“I mean I crashed,” and I did, but I didn’t do any damage. “But I did it afterwards, I slammed my hand down on a glass I didn’t see.”

I’m fairly sure there was a moment of silence where Eric took this all in. And then we decided to make the most out of a bad situation. Together we made the decision to fit two seasons into 18 months rather than one season into 12.

That’s where yesterday’s Australian National Road Cycling Championships come into it all. I said to Eric I’d like to try and target the Nationals, the Ladies Tour of Qatar and try and hold my form through the spring before taking a break and rebuilding towards the Qatar World Championships in October.

I called him today after the race and said “Thank you, I know when I suggested this you probably thought I was crazy , but thank you for getting me ready.”

The lead up

I have made no secret of my dislike of the Australian National Championship course. If youre unsure of what the course is here’s a brief summary; it’s 10.2kilometres circuit with a 3km climb.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic championships course; challenging, gruelling, great for spectators. I’m just sure that this can also be found somewhere else in Australia and find it somewhat unnecessary that it has been on the same course for the past ten years.

With that said, this year I decided to give it a real crack. If the mountain will not come to you, you must go to the mountain (is that a saying or did I make that up?).

I came into the race with the most national’s specific preparation I’ve ever had before. This may be because I have never done any specific preparation. I sat out all but one of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic stages (to be honest I had wanted to race two but I come down with a stomach bug  the day of the second stage). Similarly I choose to sit out the criterium championship on Wednesday.

The Race

As we rolled away from the start my race plan was as straight forward as they come; hide and survive.

Sitting on the start line Tiffany Cromwell said to me that I must be serious, I was wearing a skin suit. I was serious, but the skin suit wasn’t a choice — my swannie must have gotten my leg size confused with Elisa Longo Borghini’s because my knicks gave me leg muffin top.

As we rolled away from the start my race plan was as straight forward as they come; hide and survive. For the first seven laps all I did was try to hide in the peloton following wheels I knew would be strong on the climb.

It was obviously a game plan a number of people had because the break of two — Louisa Lobigs (Holden Women’s Cycling) and Sarah Roy (Orica AIS) — extended their lead to almost three minutes.

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(C) Mr Challenge Films

I’ve raced on the Buninyong circuit every year since 2009. In 2009 I think I did five laps, in 2010 maybe 6. 2011 I was back to 5 laps. 2012 I finished (although I was horrendously dropped). 2013 and 2014 were my worst years although I can’t remember how many laps I did and last year I finished just out of the top 20 (having said that I don’t think many more than 20 finished). It’s an enviable resume I know.

So when we hit lap seven and I was still spinning away on my 29 up the infamous Mt. Bunninyong    with the lead group I really started to believe that this year, after seven attempts, I might finally be in for a chance.

As we crested the climb for the fourth last time the peloton was starting to splinter. You tell girls were starting to get tired as they started to drift in odd directions in the peloton and their actions weren’t exactly what you would call predictable.

A moment of confusion saw a clip of wheels, an unclipped pedal and a very near crash on the left hand side of the road. At that exact moment Amanda Spratt and Corset rode away.

Obviously sensing the mood in the group Orica decided to start to go to work. They had about a 2:1 ratio of riders to every other team and then a 7:1 ratio to most of the other pro riders, that being there was seven of them and pretty much one of everyone else.

Amanda Spratt launched herself on the right hand side of the road as we took the sweeping left hand corner that signals the beginning of the descent but she didn’t get far. Next Katrin Garfoot catapulted herself off the front with a Holden rider glued to her wheel.

Like when you’re madly refreshing twitter to try and get a race update the whole peloton was on high alert, everybody knew it was not a good idea to let the newly crowned time trial champion up the road.

But who would bite the bullet first?

The scattering of individual riders were poised on their pedals waiting, waiting. I imagine it felt a lot like a Mexican standoff. I guess we could ask El Chapo now what that actually feels like and do a comparison.

Lauren Kitchen pulled the trigger first. She jumped out of the group catching us off guard and all of a sudden there were three super strong riders off the front.

ALERT! ALERT!

Tiff was on the same page as I was sensing the danger and jumped out of the group. I followed her along with Ruth Corset and two other Orica riders and we bridged up to the three ahead.

A moment of confusion saw a clip of wheels, an unclipped pedal and a very near crash on the left hand side of the road. At that exact moment Amanda Spratt and Corset rode away. I watched them go.

If only you could have heard the dialogue in my head; its too early. Just sit on them and don’t do anything. Someone else will go and then follow them. You’ll never last that long out the front. 

The internal struggle was real.

One sprinter who didn’t fall victim to the dialouge in their head was Kimberley Wells. Glancing at Kitchen, then up the road, then at Kitchen again Wells realised if she didnt go no-one else would and went off after Spratt and Corset. Her explosive kick helped her close the gap quickly and the three worked together for the next lap.

As we crossed the finish line with two laps to go Spratt, Corset and Wells had caught Lobigs and Roy. I knew there were going to be fireworks. But they didn’t come until the final lap when Spratt and Corset had gone alone.

Shara Gillow showed what racing for a year with Rabobank does to someone and attacked from the bottom of the climb. She didn’t look back. Then when everyone was hurting she attacked again. In a moment of delirium I though Anna Van der Breggen had entered the Australian national championships. Everybody was eating handle bar stem.

As we motored towards the left hand corner that marks half way up the climb we swallowed up Roy and Lobigs who had been out the front since the second or third lap. My legs started to scream at me. I started to drift backwards. Then I saw my parents and heard my Dad yell, ‘stick with them, Chloe!’

In the seat. Out of the seat. In the seat. My 29 no longer seemed to spin easily. About 500 metres from the top of the climb I exploded. I think I heard someone say, ‘that’s quite a grimace’. Still I could see the depleted peloton. I knew if I got over the top with a small group we could get back.

Cresting the climb the last time I found myself with a small group of six. Whether it’s because I’m bossy, they were scared of me or they didn’t think their race was over either they agreed to work with me and soon we were channeling our inner Jensie, telling our legs to shut up, and chasing down the group in front of us.

As we hit the final corner with 2km to go we latched onto the back of what was left of the race. Who was here? Who was up the road? What place are we sprinting for? All questions I didn’t get answered until after I crossed the line.

While I was getting dropped Garfoot, Kitchen and Rachel Neylan had attacked off the front of the main group in pursuit of Spratt and Corset. They got to within two seconds. I crossed the line 35 seconds behind Australia’s new national champion Amanda Spratt in sixth place taking out the ‘bunch’ sprint.

How do I feel about that? It’s hard to say. Of course I’m struggling with ‘could’ve, would’ve, should’ve’ syndrome. I mean I watched the winning break ride away! But on the other hand I pushed myself harder than I ever have before on that course and finished sixth. It’s not so bad for a chubby sprinter like myself.

2014 in review

Before we usher in the New Year and make a bunch of resolutions that probably wont last very long here are some of my cycling highligths of 2014. And a few of my most popular posts thrown in for good measure.

Julie celebrates her birthday with her Hitec Products family at the 2014 Giro Rosa. Photo credit: Wei Yuet Wong

Photo credit: Wei Yuet Wong

One of the most common questions I get asked is, ‘how can I follow women’s cycling?’ One of my very first blogs sought to address this question. As soon as I pressed publish my phone started going crazy with notifications. The blog post, much like my Pat McQuaid comment, went viral. I still get links back to it almost 12 months on. I should porbably look to update it soon but for now you can see my Who To Follow So You Can Follow Women’s Cycling blog here.

The victory shot. Photo credit: sportfoto.nl

The victory shot. Photo credit: sportfoto.nl

Winning Omloop van Borsele in April, one of my two European victories in 2014, was a huge highlight. It was my first race ever in Europe all the way back in 2009. I finished fourth then and it has been one of my favourite races ever since.

My second European victory came months later at the Lotto Belisol Ladies Tour. At the time, I couldn’t have needed it more. It was a highlight because it helped to reassure me that I’m still improving and I still have something to prove in cycling. I signed my contract for 2015 with Wiggle Honda that night.

But my highlights weren’t all racing related. I traveled to Italy to train with my teammate Elisa Longo Borghini and adopted her family in the process. When you’re away from home for ten months of the year surrounding yourself with kind and supportive people can be just as important as your training and recovery.

The Longo Borghini support crew. L-R: Nando, Guidina, Elisa, Paolo.

The Longo Borghini support crew. L-R: Nando, Guidina, Elisa, Paolo.

Other blogs that I enjoyed writing and people seemed to enjoy reading included my insight into just what is expect of cyclists from an anti-doping perspective, my profile on my mentor, former teammate and friend Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, my blog on the people who helped me get to where I am, and my candid blog on how elite athletes deal with disappointment.

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I hope you enjoyed following my successes and otherwise in 2014. It wasn’t a textbook perfect year but it definitely helped me grow as both a person and a cyclist. I’ll be back on the bike and blogging in 2015 and I’m looking forward to sharing more of my adventures with you!

Happy New Year!

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things

I’ve said it more than once, Australians are crazy.

Every year we fly back from Europe to our respective homes but we’re never there for long. Maybe we get separation anxiety and miss being surrounded by other lycra clad pros or maybe we’re just sadistic. Either way most weekends we pack our bikes, jump on a plane and go to another race somewhere in Australia.

We race essentially over the whole summer with some people starting as early as late November at the Noosa Criteirum, then we head to Tasmania, then Victoria and Adelaide and back to Victoria again. By the time I rock up on the start line at the Ladies Tour of Qatar I will already have 14 race days under my belt. I love the Australian summer racing series but it definitely makes for a long season.

I wrote a guest blog for my summer racing team Roxsolt about my trip to the Launceston Cycling Classic a few weekends ago. Check it out.


If you ever speak to Kelvin Rundle (the managing director of Roxsolt) about the Roxsolt cycling team you’ll undoubtedly be told that I am to be blamed for the team’s inception. That’s partly true I suppose but it was definitely Kelvin’s infectious enthusiasm for women’s cycling and his unbelievable generosity that really made the team a reality.

Back in 2013 I borrowed Kelvin’s Zipp 404s for the national road race in Ballarat. We got to talking about how great it would be to have more competitive women’s team at races like the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic and the National Criterium Championship, two races I had just competed in.

Since I was 17 I had managed to find myself guest rides in mixed teams but they just weren’t competitive against the like of the Dream Team, managed by Rochelle Gilmore, or the Orica-AIS and Australian National Team squads that have dominated the racing over the past three or four years.

It was always a struggle when I came home to Australia after racing the European season with my trade team to get to a lot of the races around Australia, both financially and logistically.

Kelvin’s idea (with my help) was to create a well organised environment that could help riders in my position but also maintain a development aspect to help rising Australian domestic riders grow and develop. And that’s exactly what he did.

Now that I thinks about it, Kelvin lending me his wheels in 2013 is just a giant metaphor for what the Roxsolt team is all about; providing support to riders who might not have it otherwise.

The Roxsolt Sydney Uni Velo team celebrating after the second stage of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic. L-R: Kelvin, Sarah, Lauren, Lucy, Chloe and Andrew.

The Roxsolt Sydney Uni Velo team celebrating after the second stage of the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic. L-R: Kelvin, Sarah, Lauren, Lucy, Chloe and Andrew.

The team’s first race was the NSW GP in 2013 and we recruited the likes of Sarah Roy (current National Criterium Champion) and London Olympian Lucy Martin. Since then the team has just exploded. It has established itself as one of the best summer racing teams on the circuit and in my opinion is on par with the professional teams of Orica-AIS and Wiggle Honda.

For me, this past weekend at the Launceston Cycling Classic really confirmed that what Kelvin and I set out to do has been achieved.

As was the aim of the team from the outset, the team’s lineup for the Launceston Cycling Classic was a mix of international riders with plenty of experience and one development rider who could have the opportunity to learn and race with ‘the big girls’.

Lauren Kitchen, the 2011 National Criterium lead the team, with 2013 Criterium Champion Kimberley Wells also on the roster. Just incase we didn’t have enough talent the current Criterium Champion Sarah Roy was also down to race. Throw in myself and development rider Steph Lord and we knew we had a pretty strong team.

Heading into Saturday’s Symmons Plains Raceway Kermesse our tactics were pretty open; be aggressive and if it came down to it set ‘Kimbers’ up for the sprint.

“We won a giant novelty check and $150 worth of salmon.”

Four laps into the 15 lap race I turned around to see a light acceleration I’d put in had actually spilt the field. All of a sudden I was away with Eileen Roe (Wiggle Honda) and Loes Gunnewijk (Orica-AIS).

I knew it was a good situation for myself and the team so I drove the break hard for the next few laps to really establish a gap.

With two laps to go we all started looking at each other, ‘no really, you can have the front, it’s fine’. At one point I thought we may revert to track standing. Coming into the final 300 metres I was positioned in third wheel. Loes opened up the sprint early and I sat comfortably on Eileen’s wheel. It was a strong headwind finish so I left my run late and probably only let her wheel go with about 75 metres left to race, but it was enough. I crossed the line first and managed a very, very poor victory salute. You trying taking both hands off the bars in a head-cross wind.

But the ‘big’ one was really the Stan Siejka Cycling Classic on Sunday being help in downtown Launceston. The race was going to be televised live on SBS and for us it was important not only to race well as a team but also to showcase how exciting women’s cycling can be.

Lauren actually won the event in 2013 so she was able to give us a lot of valuable advice about the course, possible scenarios and what we should do. In the end, we decided on a similar race plan to Saturday; be aggressive (be, be aggressive).

As it turned out we weren’t the only team with this plan because as soon as the gun went off there were riders flying up the road like missiles. I was speaking with Gracie Elvin of Orica-AIS later and she said he aim for the race was to be the first attack of the day, and she was.

It didn’t take long for a group of five to establish themselves which included our Kimberley Wells. Kimbers is probably one of, if not the, fastest sprinters going around at the moment so it was a good situation for us in that we knew if it came down to a sprint she probably had it covered. But we decided it would be nice to have one more Roxsolt lady up the road with her just incase.

Lauren, Steph, Sarah and I all started attacking, trying to sneak away from the peloton which was about 30seconds behind the lead group of five. I’ve heard people use the analogy of it was liking ‘rolling the dice’. We didn’t care which rider got there as long as one of us did.

After a few attacks Sarah snuck away with another Orica-AIS and Wiggle Honda riders and quickly closed the gap to the lead group but she’d dug too deep. Next thing we knew Sarah was back in the peloton with us, unfortunately the other two riders weren’t. Alarm bells started to sound.

Kimbers was up the road with two Orica-AIS riders, three Wiggle Honda and one Tasmania rider. This was not an ideal situation. I heard our director yell from the side of the road ‘bring that back’ and I couldn’t agree more.

Steph, Lauren, Sarah and I started working hard to close the gap which had blown out to more than 40 seconds. In the end we got within about 10 seconds of the lead group but it didn’t matter. Kimbers road and incredibly smart race and dominated the sprint for the race honors beating Gracie Elvin and Eileen Roe.

We won a giant novelty check and $150 worth of salmon.

It was a great weekend for the Roxsolt racing team and exciting to be a part of. I can’t wait to pull on the Roxsolt jersey again this weekend at the Shimano Super Crit in Melbourne!

Podcast Interview with Sarah Connolly

Aussie battler Chloe Hosking is a fan favourite, not just for her stubborn, “never-say-die” sprinting, but for the way she writes about women’s cycling.

Martin, one of my Patreon supporters, asked if I could interview her, and ask her all about joining Wiggle Honda for 2015, and the expansion of super-teams in the women’s peloton – so how could I say no?

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Chloe is a lot of fun, loves to talk, and told me all about how she sees next year going, racing with Roxsolt and Wiggle for the Aussie summer season, as well as what she sees her role with the team will be for the Euro season.  We also talked about her blogging, the fall-out from those comments about Pat McQuaid, why you shouldn’t expect her to win in the Aussie National Road Race, but should definitely watch out for her in the Tour of Qatar, and a lot more!  We laugh a fair bit in this one too! (46:47 MIN / 45.09 MB)

Listen to the podcast here…

Women Who Cycle: CHLOE HOSKING LIVING THE CYCLING DREAM

I was interviewed by Nicola from Women Who Cycle last week. Her article offers a good insight into what I’ve been up to and what I have coming up. I’ve posted a few quotes to bring her piece to life.


Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Aussie pro cyclist Chloe Hosking over the phone. Chloe has returned home to Canberra for the summer season where her training program continues, as well as her university studies in communication.

Chloe has just completed two pretty successful years with Norwegian team Hitec. Her 2014 season began with a stage victory at the Mitchelton Bay Crits, and continued with impressive results in Europe including the EPZ Omloop van Borsele and a stage of the Lotto-Belisol Belgium Tour.

But despite her successes Hitec told her that they wouldn’t be renewing her contract for 2015. Chloe wasn’t too disappointed because she says she was ready to move but when discussions with Orica-AIS fell over at the final hurdle she was feeling a little anxious about her future. She made contact with a number of teams and found a great fit with Wiggle Honda where she’s signed up for the 2015 season. There she’ll be reunited with her friends Elisa Longo Borghini and Audrey Cordon and will enjoy racing again with Emilia Fahlin.

“My discussion with Orica-AIS got pretty far along and it was definitely a blow when I got the email saying there wasn’t a spot for me. But in the end I’m really happy with my decision to race with Wiggle-Honda for 2015.

I’ve got a great race program really suited to my strengths and I’m looking forward to trying to get back to the level I was on in 2012 and 2013.”

She’s also excited at the prospect of racing in the same team as Georgia Bronzini who is known for her great leadership out on the road. As well as her new team mates she’ll still be keeping in regular contact with her mentor and former teammate Ina-Yoko Teutenberg.

One thing I’ve admired about Chloe is her outspokenness. She famously called the then UCI President Pat McQuaid ‘a dick’ in January 2012 in reference to his comments, when he said that women’s cycling has “not developed enough” to warrant a minimum wage. As I’m a former media advisor to some of Australia’s largest companies I suppose I should be suggesting to Chloe that she needs to sanitise her comments in future, but I actually admire what she’s achieved. As Chloe said it was the first time she remembers women’s sport of any kind hogging the number one spot of the SMH’s sports page.

“It’s not something I’m particularly proud of but it did generate conversation. I’ve been told by a lot of the girls who have since gone through the Australian national team program that I’m always used as the ‘what not to do’ example.

“I definitely learnt a lot very quickly over that period in January 2012. But despite all that I’m still of the opinion that there is a big difference to being media trained and just being boring.”

Chloe attributes her outspoken nature to the Australian habit of being somewhat blunt. She works on the theory that she speaks to others the way she’d like them to speak to her, and sometimes that backfires, but mostly it serves her well. I know I enjoyed reading her blog post about the Commonwealth Games and dealing with disappointment. She really wears her heart on her sleeve.

“I think racing the first years of my career with Ina and other really strong personalities also had a impact. I always knew where I stood with Ina. If she didn’t think I was working hard enough she would always tell me and while maybe I didn’t like hearing it so much when I was 19, 20, 21, I know it has really helped my work and training ethic in the past few years. One thing I learnt when racing with HTC and the various incarnations of the team is to never make excuses.”

In 2015 Chloe will begin her year at the Bay Crits in her new Wiggle Honda colours. The Bay Crits is a race she enjoys and she won Stage 2 there earlier this year. This will be followed shortly by the National Road Championships in Victoria but it’s not a race she enjoys, or is suited for (she has to race it in order to be considered for selection in any national teams). But she is looking forward to her first major hit-out of the year with the Tour of Qatar in February.

“I’ve never made any secret about how I feel about the Ballarat nationals course. I do it year in year out because I understand that you have to compete in the National Championships to be eligible for Australian National teams but I wish this was consistently enforced across all riders and all categories.”

This year Chloe spent 10 months away from Australia and when in Europe she’s based in Girona in Spain. So it’s really her home rather than Canberra, and there’s a huge community of cyclists living there too, so she’s got plenty of training buddies.

Girona, my European

Girona, my European base. 

I asked Chloe my favourite question which I like to pose to professional cyclists – ‘How can we increase the profile of women’s cycling?’. She said that all riders have the potential to use social media to promote their own sport and many do it well by blogging and utilising social media like Twitter and Instagram. She suggests that teams could be doing more by sending more regular media releases, thus providing ready-made content for time-poor journos.

In her spare time, not that she has much of that, Chloe is studying towards her Bachelor in Communication (majoring in journalism) which she hopes to finish in February next year. She’d like to use her pro cycling experience and studies to pursue a career in sports management in the future.

Good luck in 2015. Women Who Cycle will follow your progress.

News Updates

CyclingTips: Chloe Hosking signs with Wiggle

Honda

Australian sprinter Chloe Hosking has inked a one-year deal with the Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling Team and will join the British-registered squad for the 2015 season.

The 24-year-old has spent the past two seasons racing for Norwegian-based Hitec Products but was told by the team in August that her contract would not be renewed.

Hosking had been in talks with other teams by that point, but the news from Hitec Products gave her greater urgency in looking for a new team for 2015.

“I had a few meetings with GreenEdge [Orica-AIS] and thought that could have been a really good option for me leading up to the [sprinter-friendly] 2016 World Championships in Qatar”, Hosking told CyclingTips. “But when push came to shove I didn’t get offered a contract which was a fairly massive blow as I’d really been putting all my eggs in one basket.”

Hosking told CyclingTips that she considered retiring from the sport.

“I’m about 14 weeks away from finishing my university [journalism] degree and at the end of the day it would be easier to go back to Australia, get a real job and say, ‘well I’ve been to the World Championships, I’ve been to the Commonwealth Games, I’ve been to the Olympics. That’s enough.’”, Hosking said.

Read more…

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Cycling News: Wiggle-Honda bolsters squad with

Hosking signing

Australian leaves Hitec-Products after two years

Wiggle-Honda have confirmed that Chloe Hosking will join the team in 2015 on a one-year contract. The 24-year-old has spent the last two seasons withHitec Products and will join current teammates Elisa Longo Borghini andAudrey Cordon in making the switch to Wiggle-Honda next season.

“I spoke with [Wiggle-Honda team manager] Rochelle Gilmore in 2012 when Wiggle Honda was just about to launch its first season and I was already impressed by what she had put together,” Hosking said. “Over the last two seasons I’ve watched Wiggle Honda become one of the biggest, most professional and strongest teams in the women’s peloton and to join an outfit like that is both exciting and motivating.

“I’ve raced with, against and for Rochelle since I entered the senior ranks in 2009 and to now race on her team is actually something really special,” Chloe added. “I’m very committed to helping grow women’s cycling, and to work alongside Rochelle to do this is really exciting because she really has done a lot to professionalise the sport which is something really important to me.

Read more…

On the famous Kemmelberg. © Dion Kerckhoffs

On the famous Kemmelberg. © Dion Kerckhoffs