The Alé- Cipollini sprinter on travelling the world and proving the naysayers wrong
I was around 12 when I started cycling.
I did every sport under the sun until I started getting shin splints. I asked my dad, who was a really keen cyclist, if I could try racing. I think he’d been waiting for the day, because he set up a bike straight away and the next morning we joined Australian cyclists’ daily ritual of starting riding at 6am. One morning, we bumped into a group of junior riders. I had no idea what I was doing but at the end we did a hill sprint and when I got to the top of the hill I threw up. Straight away I was hooked: it felt huge and it satisfied my competitive instinct. My parents took my sister and me out of school to travel around the world.
I was seven. We had a motorhome in South Africa and a six-wheel RV in Canada. We were very lucky. I know it’s an unusual upbringing but I think it helped prepare me for when I came to Europe to race when I was 18. As I’ve got older, I’ve started to miss home more.
I value my family, friends and partner, so I feel a lot more things pulling me home. I think that aspect of my career is going to get harder in the next couple of years, but I’m going to keep racing at least until the Tokyo Olympics. It was a pleasure joining AléCipollini.
When I joined the team at the start of 2017, it was really committed to becoming an international squad, and the old image of an insular Italian team couldn’t have been further from the truth. The team gave me the freedom to divide my time between home and racing in Europe, which I really needed. I needed time to reconnect with why I loved cycling and that meant riding at home with my dad and friends and partner. I’m not the sort of rider that gets channelled through national teams. It’s the raw deal that sprinters get. Mark Cavendish had it too. Usually when we’re young, we’re fat and we can’t climb, so national teams don’t look at supporting us. Luckily, I had it drummed into me by my dad that sprinters win more bike races, so I never really cared that I wasn’t a hill climber. I think making my own way here was character building. When I was younger I didn’t have the best attitude towards constructive feedback.
If I had listened to some of that advice I could have been two years ahead of where I am now. That’s what I try to teach my young team-mates. I’m honest with them and they can choose to hate me or they can listen and progress their career more quickly. I was fortunate to get onto a big team quite quickly and to watch Ina Teutenberg in action for three years. Seeing her in the best years of her career makes me think that she’s the rider I want to be. She was in her late 30s when she retired. I’m 28, so there’s still hope. My Commonwealth Games road race title is among my favourite wins.
It was special for so many reasons. In the past I’ve been told I don’t deliver under pressure, that I have a history of not performing in the green and gold, so to be in Australia, really thriving on the course and delivering the win was super special. I’m still waiting to catch a big win in the spring Classics. I’m not fussy which one. I like to keep my mind busy.
I’ve got a Journalism and Comms degree and I’m working on a law degree now. I finished my first degree – I call it my ‘soft’ degree – in 2014 and two years ago I enrolled in an online law degree. In the period when I wasn’t doing a course, it felt like I got dumber! Keeping the head ticking over is important so I can hold an intelligent conversation. I’m also mindful of life after cycling – I’m not delusional, I know I’m not making my millions in the peloton. Races are getting longer and harder.
That’s great but limits are needed... If races become too hard it could make races boring. I think women’s racing right now is far more exciting than the men’s.
Hosking sprints to Commonwealth gold on home turf