30 Sep Interview: Chloe Hosking following her unorthodox approach for 2017, joining Alé Cipollini
On September 15th, 2016 Australian rider Chloe Hosking broke the news announcing she had signed a one-year deal with Italian-registered Alé Cipollini Galassia for the 2017 season.
After two successful seasons with Wiggle High5 (formerly Wiggle-Honda) the 25-year-old rider decided to take an unexpected turn in her cycling career in pursuit of a more comprehensive approach to balance her personal life, tertiary education and her professional racing career. Her move to Alé Cipollini Galassia came as a big surprise after becoming one of the most dominant sprinters of the international peloton with Wiggle High5 winning several top-ranked races, including UCI WWT Chongming Island and La Course.
In Spain, it has been widely mentioned the fact that both Australian and North-American riders have been coming or moving to Spain (particularly to Girona) in order to train, to set up your European base/cycling season home. However, the information or conversation flow in relation to the sacrifice that cyclists commit to, as they move away leaving behind their beloved ones back home, has been kept to a minimum.
How was the first time you moved to Girona? How mentally demanding was it? What were the biggest challenges you had to face? How has that changed throughout the years in order to make you look for a different approach?
It’s funny because I moved to Girona in 2010, it was my first year as a pro and I really loved it, I felt in love with the city straightaway and it is a really great place to live for a cyclists. There is fantastic training, great transport to the airport and everything. And it is really set up, there is people here doing motor-pacing, mechanics and everything.
For a really long time I thought Girona might be where I would end up living full-time because I wasn’t missing my family that much and I was finding it quite easy to live for overseas, full-time. But then just this year, which is really strange cause I am now older. You know, I moved here when I was 19 and I am now 25 it just became a lot harder to be away from my family and I got engaged.
I really struggled this year being away from them. So it was important to me for next year to able to spend a lot more time in Australia because I know that when I am with my family and my partner that I am really happy so I wanted to find an arrangement where that would be possible and Alé Cipollini were able to offer me that, so I am really grateful.
I am excited to see how the next year goes. The team has shown so much flexibility I just want to repay them proving that I can manage myself and still be able to get results for them.
It is a big sacrifice for riders that aren’t from Europe and I think a lot of European riders actually don’t realise and take for granted what we give up. It is hard to compare an Australian with a European rider because it is so much difficult for us, we don’t have the luxury of being able to come to Europe and live with our family, with our parents, we have to find an apartment. So it is quite a sacrifice and I wanted to find a happy medium and I think that is what I have found at Alé Cipollini.
Also we have seen this year that many Australians have talked about or started sharing the mental difficulties pro riders sometimes face throughout their cycling careers. Same riders have decided to quit racing such as Macey Stewart as she wasn’t happy about spending so much time away from family and friends, others such as Loren Rowney decided to make an impact by sharing her own feelings, problems and experiences in order to spread the word and keep the conversation going.
I think teams are starting to realise it is not enough to just bring riders to Europe and put them in a house in the middle of nowhere, that is a very quick way for riders to lose motivation. Riders could just decide that it is too hard and they just go home and hang out the bike.
Specially for younger girls like Macey, it must have been very difficult for her and I think she made the right decision to go home to Australia. She is still so young and if she decides in the future that she does wanna get back on the bike, I am sure she can do it. As I have shown, you can come to Europe and race with a Dutch club team and then get signed into a professional team. There is option and it is so important, as an athlete, to make sure that you have that balance between your sports and the other things that keep you happy because that is when you ride your best.
What is your opinion of the new race schedule the UCI Women’s Commission is working on for 2018, do you think it could potentially ease that some riders could live back in their home countries?
I have to be honest and I haven’t seen anything about the race schedule for 2018 so I can’t really comment that much on it. For sure it makes sense if they are going to cluster races together so it is more attractive for teams to go to those races, like you know hopefully next year we will have more teams at the Tour of California and at the Canadian races.
Does your signing for Alé Cipollini mean that you are going to race as well for Alé during the Australian season? (explicar equipo 2016)
I am not sure, that is something that I will get when I get back to Australia. For sure there is an option there. Obviously Alé, the clothing brand, is really trying to push in Australia so if I do race I would love to be in the bright Alé colours and maybe hopefully in the World Championship stripes. But, actually my focus this year is really the spring races. So I don’t wanna be in a position like I was this year, where I put a lot of focus on the summer in Australia and then I wasn’t very good in the spring because I couldn’t hold my form to that long. So if I do race in Australia it will probably just be the Cadel Evans Race and maybe the National Championships.
For Doha 2016 you have said that it’s been your main goal of the season and that you really didn’t want to peak long during the spring in order to peak during the Worlds in October. We have seen you winning and delivering great performances, power and sprints throughout the season. Does it mean you are going to be even stronger at the Worlds?
I think so, I just feel so strong on the bike I almost wish there were hills. No, ahh I am feeling really really good on the bike, it’s been a plan all year, everything is been building towards Doha. I had two peaks for the season, first peak in January for the National Championships and now for Doha. Even at the Giro when I got the stage win I had just come up from an altitude block training, I was still building and even at La Course I was training through that.
I hope that I get my preparation right and my papers right and when I race there I just feel my legs are pedalling themselves. I can definitely feel that my form is still building and it is difficult because there are so few races now before the World Championships, only the weekend races in Italy but after that is just training. So, everybody is on the same boat but I think I an almost up to the nerve because you don’t have any recent races to sort of draw our own form.
It has been recently announced your six teammates for Doha 2016 (Katrin Garfoot, Tiffany Cromwell, Loren Rowney, Lauren Kitchen, Sarah Roy and Gracie Elvin). Throughout the season some of them they have widely spoken about your chances and their desire to be selected to work for you at Doha. For instance Loren Rowney told us in February she wanted to be selected in order to work for you at Doha, Lauren Kitchen told us it would be really funny working for you at Doha while the rest of the season she has been leading out Kirsten Wild, one of your biggest contenders at the Worlds. When you hear or read all these comments and compliments how do you feel? Do they add some pressure to you?
It is sort of like a mixture, it is very motivating to know that my teammates have so much belief in me but at the same time then it is like it ads so much pressure. After the two races in Italy on the weekend we are all coming together for a training camp, so that will be really great to bring the team together and just practice riding together. I am so grateful for these girls, they are great riders in their own rides and could probably play their cards if they felt like it, but they’ve already said they would be there for me, it is very motivating.
The statement “every domestique has her day” it may suit you as you have been working many times as a domestique for your teammates at Wiggle High5 and now you have a big opportunity to shine, to score a very big personal result at the Worlds.
For sure, but I had a lot of opportunities this year actually to race for my own chances with Jolien being focused on the track, so Wiggle really works that way, riders always get their own opportunities. I wouldn’t say I am a classic domestique but it is really nice to have the backing of the Australian team.
You have said you are the typical domestique, you shown your great capabilities as sprinter, domestique, lead-out teammate and road captain. How would you quote yourself as a rider? Maybe a jack all of trades?
Hahaha, I don’t know about that. My climbing is not what to be desired. I don’t know how to quote or label myself as a rider. I think I am not only a sprinter and I have been around for a long time, I can get through harder races. But my strength is definitely my sprint, and I just have to keep working on that. It is hard to define what I am really, but I am ok with that.
Despite the fact that Worlds Road Race is not the same as the stage you raced at the Ladies Tour of Qatar, where you won a stage, it is a course that suits you. In your opinion, who are your biggest contender for the rainbow stripes?
Any rider from the Dutch team, the German team, the Italian team are strong also. There is a lot of teams that can potentially win and I think it is going to be a very beautiful race. And it doesn’t have to end as everybody expects so we have to be very cautious.
How would you rate your season so far and which has been your biggest achievement or moment of the season?
This has been for sure my best season ever in my career, I have really big wins with the Giro and La Course and probably La Course is the highlight. Not only because how big the race is but my family were there so that was really special to share with them.
1- Favourite roommate: Audrey Cordon-Ragot
2- Favourite performance meal (pre/post race): Some good Italian pasta with a really nice bolognese sauce
3- Favourite training route or loop: The Beach Loop around Girona, the ride around the Costa Brava
4- Greatest ambition in the sport: Become World Champion
5- Biggest sport or cycling admiration: Ina-Yoko Teutenberg
6- Toughest moment in your cycling career: Probably would have been in 2014 at the end of the season. I couldn’t find a contract and I was really worried. I knew the Qatar World Championships were coming up and really wanted to be riding for that but it was looking like I might have to go home to Australia and then I got a contract with Wiggle-Honda.