More News From Down Under

Sarah Holmes reports from Australia.


Excited to be back on the race circuit I was also feeling nervous in the lead up to this race. My coach had described my recent progress as being like a soldier with a bunch of new weapons; unsure of how and when to use them and how many rounds I have got to fire, so I was unsure of how I would perform against Australia’s best. In a field of 20 Elite/U23 women I was on the front line as determined by last series’ rankings. My race plan was to settle in for the first few laps, keeping within the top 10 and before reeling in the positions as the race went on and keeping my lap times consistent. The course was a 5.5km lap consisting of long climbs with steep pinches and very technical descents with rocky chutes, drops and berms. I had a strong race, having several battles throughout the race with a few of the top girls. Coming into the final lap, 2nd place was 45 seconds ahead of me; putting in a big final effort I caught her on the final descent which resulted in a few unsuccessful attempts to pass in elbow‐touching singletrack before a sprint finish. I lost the sprint by a quarter of a wheel – If the course was a metre longer I would have finished in second place. Overall I finished in 3rd place in U23s and 7th place in Elite, which is my best result to date. The whole Australian Women’s field has progressed at such a rate that since racing on this course 6 months ago the field completed an extra lap in the same target race time. Within this I have also moved up 6 places in the elite field relative to 6 months ago.
The next race is the Australian National Championships in Adelaide (my home turf!) and I am excited to commence my race intensity training block in the lead up to this event.

Sarah fighting hard

On the Podium

Fronting up for a short track race the day after a full length cross country race is always tough, and the thought of pushing yourself to your absolute maximum intensity and holding it for 15 minutes + 3 laps (approx 25 minutes) with limited chances for recovery is also not so pleasant. The discussion on the start line consisted of jokes about a mutual agreement to all hide under a tree for the 15 minutes – wait for the bell to be rung and then smash out the 3 final laps! Comments of not being able to finish a short track race without vomiting were a common theme too. We were seeded by our fastest lap times the day before, the gun went and we were off. Having learnt a lot in the previous 24 hours; both from my race and debrief with my coach, I was feeling aggressive, and both physically and mentally ready to take it to the top girls. I sat comfortably in 4th place and a few position changes began to take place over the first few laps, Rowena Fry the dominant rider at the front, adventure racer Heather Logie not far behind and then Bec Hendersen and I battling for 3rd place, with Katherine O’Shea and Terri Rhodes close behind before fading. Tactics came into play when Bec and I began drafting each other swapping positions for a few laps; making attempts to pull away from eachother. With 3 laps to go Bec’s 7 years race experience got the better of me and she pulled away and held a 15 second lead to the finish.

Although disappointed I didn’t podium this was definitely my best performance to date and in front of a good crowd. I feel as though this race was a real turning point for me, after months of training; both my physical and mental work had come together to have a strong race, making my mark amongst the more experienced world class riders.



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