Inside Line: Mel Hoskins’ Chongming Island World Cup
Round 5 of the UCI Women’s World Cup was raced in China on the weekend: the Tour of Chongming Island World Cup. The single-day race followed the three-day Tour of Chongming stage race with both races taking place on, unsurprisingly, Chongming Island, roughly 50km north of Shanghai. Orica-AIS sprinter Mel Hoskins, who won the three-day Tour of Chongming Island in 2012, was riding for the Australian National Team in the World Cup race on Sunday. She wrote this report for CyclingTips.
The Tour of Chongming Island was one race I had been targeting since I got my program at the start of the year. Having won the race in 2012 and having helped my Orica-AIS teammate Nettie Edmondson defend that title in 2013, I was really looking forward to having another shot at the race, this time with the National Team.
My preparation for the Tour started in Italy with a short camp and the opportunity for me to acquaint myself with the other riders on the Australian National Team — Katrin Garfoot, Felicity Wardlaw, Emily Roper and Rebecca Wiasak — and catch up with my coach, Gary Sutton. All was in readiness, bikes and bags packed, a successful lead-up camp completed — I was just waiting for my visa to arrive.
Arrive it did, but not in time. We were going to miss the Tour of Chongming Island. It was a devastating blow but it was out of my hands. I now had to refocus on the Tour of Chongming Island World Cup. We finally arrived Thursday morning, midway trough the Tour of Chongming Island, giving me three days to settle in and prepare.
— Melissa Hoskins (@MelissaMHoskins) May 15, 2014
Given most of our racing is in Europe a 12-hour flight to China is out of the ordinary. But for an Australian-based cyclist these long trips are all too familiar.
We flew from Milan to Shanghai, a direct 12-hour flight, arriving at 6am. Having done this tour twice before I knew the journey was not yet over. we still had a two-hour coach ride to Chongming Island and our hotel.
Quick adaptations are my ‘one percenters’ if you like, when arriving in a new country, especially after long travel. This was no exception. I made sure to stay awake all day with no naps, making the time zone change easier.
The World Cup course was slightly different this year. It was no longer a point-to-point race but a loop that saw us cross the bridge over the Yangtze River once in each direction. The race itself was 130km long, almost entirely flat, on long, straight, multi-lane roads.
Going into the race everyone on the team had their own opportunity. Our DS gave Bec Wiasak the all clear to have a crack at the two intermediate sprints and for Katrin Garfoot to target the QOM on the bridge. Felicity Wardlaw and Emily Roper were there to help them out. My role? To help where I could but to stay safe and wait for what most expected: a bunch kick finish.
The race was aggressive with several attacks throughout, including several from Katrin and Emily, but nothing survived. It was all going to come down to a sprint finish. With 5km to go I took a gamble and went to the back of the bunch. Wiggle-Honda were getting their lead-out train organised for Giorgia Bronzini so I jumped on the back and rode their train all the way until the 1km mark.
The ride didn’t come without challengers, with a lot of pushing and shoving to contend with. But that’s sprinting. I shifted across on to Kirsten Wild’s wheel with 500m to go as we got ready to sprint. Behind Wild is where I stayed, unable to get around her in the dash for the line.
In the end I was fifth in a close finish. Wild won (she also won two stages and the overall at the Tour of Chongming Island earlier in the week) with Elena Cecchini (Estado de Mexico Faren) and Giorgia Bronzini completing the podium.
I’m very happy with my result and my ride and even happier with how the team rode together. They were switched on and it was awesome to see them ride like a well-oiled machine; like professionals who have been doing it for years. It sure made my day easier.
In the end Bec took out the sprint jersey (after winning both intermediate sprints) — her jersey was a team effort and a good one at that. Katrin ran third over the QOM. Overall it’s fair to say the day went as planned. For me, I was gunning for a top three, but I’m not going to lose sleep over this one. After all there was less than half a bike between second and fifth.
It was my third Tour of Chongming Island World Cup and I still love this race — it’s one for us sprinters.
Next up for me and the Australian National Team is the three-day Tour of Zhoushan Island, which is about 150km south east of Shanghai. Then I’m heading back to Girona for 10 days for some rest and recovery and to catch up with Rohan. After that it’s off to Arizona for a training camp and then to the Giro Rosa from July 4 to July 13.
Follow the links below to read race reports from each of the World Cup rounds so far:
The riders in the feature image are, from left to right: Mel Hoskins, Felicity Wardlaw, Katrin Garfoot, Emily Roper and Rebecca Wiasak.