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It’s the eve before the 2017 UCI Road World Championships road race and Chloe Hosking is keeping an eye on the TV screen in the hotel lobby as she talks. The junior men are racing and she wants to see what’s working and what isn’t. She’s seen the course, of course, reccied it with the Australian selection that was finalised only days ago.
Hosking didn’t think she’d be sitting here now. In its initial roster announcement, Cycling Australia had controversially decided to leave two of its allotted seven roster spots unfilled, and Hosking – Australia’s best ranked female rider – was left off the roster.
At the time, Cycling Australia High Performance director Simon Jones told Ella CyclingTips that the decision not to take a full team was made purely on a performance basis, as the Australian women didn’t have a clear athlete that could be backed 100% with a full team.
It was a statement that provoked an uproar from cycling fans and riders alike, given that the nation’s female riders had lifted their ranking up to the third-best nation in the world and individual riders had delivered high-level performances at some key races on the calendar.
Hosking spoke up, announcing that she would appeal. Her concern went far beyond the slight to her ego, and centred around the message Cycling Australia was sending to the potential next generation of female athletes.
Rachel Neylan, a former World Championship silver medallist who was also left off the roster, joined Hosking in appealing Cycling Australia, and on Sept. 14, just nine days before the event, the duo was added to the roster.
Sitting here now, Hosking says she’s in good form and perhaps fueled by a little extra motivation when she rolls up to the start line on Saturday.
“There is some extra fire in my belly, yes,” says Hosking with a sly smile.
“It’s a shitty, shitty process to go through. I wouldn’t wish any athlete to have to go through it. I’m just lucky that I had a really good support network around me to do the majority of the heavy lifting. The public support was unbelievable – as it should be. We deserve to have a full team here and I’m glad we have the opportunity.”
“We won the first battle.”
The second battle, of course, is the race itself. As a team, Hosking says the Australians will have their hands full trying to counter the formidable Dutch team. On a personal level, Hosking hopes to have an impact.
“My chances? It depends on how it’s raced,” she says. “I know that I’m in really good form and that’s one of the reasons why I was so disappointed and then made the decision to fight the decision.”
Hosking is among one of the best sprinters in the world, but critics –and those in support of Jones’ initial decision to leave Hosking off the roster –question if she’ll be able to hang in on the bumpy course, and be there for the finish.
“Screw the naysayers. Anyone that races with me knows that I am high enough quality to be on the team. I’m here and I’m going to race for my team…It’s a challenging course, for sure. It’s not tailored for me like Qatar was but I’m at a point in my career where I want to be challenged. So I’m really looking forward to seeing how far I can push myself in the race. I want to have an impact.”
“If I can help Australia get a good result then that’s good enough for me. And hey, if I can pull out a top result, then that’d be great.”