Q&A With Melissa Hoskins: Reflections on the Track World Championships

Sat 8 Mar 2014

Melissa Hoskins, Amy Cure, Nettie Edmondson and Isabella King scored yet another medal for Australia in the team pursuit at this year’s World Championships in Cali, Colombia. Qualifying third fastest, the young but speedy quartet clocked a quicker time than Poland in the bronze medal round to secure their spot on the podium. The bronze brings the medal count for Australia’s team pursuit to five in the last six World Championships.

Now in her European home base of Spain, Hoskins is redirecting her attention to the road season that is currently underway. Hoskins sat down with us to answer our questions about her recent experience at in Colombia.

Q: What was the team hoping to achieve at this year’s World Championships?

As it is every year, our goal was to win the world title. With that being said, this year there was a steep learning curve as this was the first time racing the four person format for the team pursuit at a World Championship. It was also Bella’s first ride at Worlds. Those two factors meant we had a big challenge ahead of us.

Really our objective was to qualify for the gold medal round. In the qualifying round, we were beaten by two better teams and had to settle for the bronze final. We rode really well as a team to win the bronze medal ride-off. We swapped the order a bit and it worked heaps better. In the end, we didn’t achieve the goal we set out to do, but throughout the year ahead, we will better prepare for next season.

Q: You mentioned that you were testing a new team at Worlds. Why would the federation choose to race with a new team at the premier event of the season?

In the three World Cups leading up to Worlds, I raced in Mexico with one group of girls while Nettie raced in Manchester with a different combination. Although we hadn’t raced with this exact team pursuit squad before, we had trained together many times.

We went to Cali with five endurance riders. Ashlee [Ankudinoff] missed out on the team pursuit ride and did the scratch race instead. It was a learning curve to figure out what did and didn’t work, what was the right combination of riders. It’s hard to say what may or may not have made a difference.

Q: Between the qualifying round and the bronze final, what went right? What went wrong?

The thing that went right is that not everything did. It sounds funny but we left Cali knowing where we can improve and what we can make better. There might be teams who think they don’t have as many things to perfect, but we do. We have a lot to perfect. I’m pretty positive that leading into Rio we will see big gains because there are so many things we can get right next time.

Q: This was the first year that the women competed with four riders over four kilometres in the team pursuit. Do you prefer the new format?

I do prefer it because it allows the team to finish with three riders instead of four. If someone is having an off day, the team doesn’t have to carry her to the finish. She can peel off and the team can have a better run.

The new format also gives equal opportunity to women. It allows us to have as many women for track endurance events at an Olympics as the men.

Q: When Amy won the points race, the look of excitement on yours and Nettie’s faces was priceless. What is Cycling Australia doing to foster this sort of sentiment for your teammates?

We spend so much time together training in Adelaide, it’s like we’re family. Gary Sutton, our coach, has developed us in such a way that we understand the need for teammates. No one can do it alone. We all need each other.

When we see someone achieve success, especially when that person is part of the team pursuit sqaud, we feel that we’ve helped her achieve that. For Amy it was a little win for all of us. We weren’t able to compete for the world title in the team pursuit, but she could in the points race. We all felt that we had a little part of her success. Really, when any rider within the Australian squad achieves success, sprinters included, it’s a success for us all.

Q: Looking ahead to the road season, what do you hope to accomplish in the next six months?

I want to go to the Commonwealth Games on the road and maybe on the track as well. My goal for this year is it to make the team for the road race because it’s a course that will suit me if I am road fit.

The first few months of my season is about getting into road condition. Right now I am carrying extra weight that is very specific to the track for power. On the road, I don’t need that extra weight. From here forward, I’ll focus on getting some racing and riding under my belt and aim for the Comm Games selection.