Reigning women's National Road Race Champion Gracie Elvin found herself on the deck after a seven-rider pileup on the second lap of the 30-lap, 30km National Criterium Championship on Thursday, just two days before the Canberra-native attempts to become the first Australian female since Kathy Watt won three straight (1992-94) to win back-to-back road race national titles.
Elvin, along with crit-race favourite Chloe Hosking, laid on the tarmac for more than 30-seconds self-evaluating the damage in hopes that nothing would keep her from defending her title on Sunday.
"I have a bit of a bruise and abrasion on my bum. Its not the most ideal location, although its hurting I don't think it will affect my health or performance," Elvin said.
Elvin shared she was "a bit too relaxed" as she was trying to suss out the bunch and when a rider came into her right side faster than she was expecting. "I had nowhere to go and I slammed into the girl next to me and went over the bars," she said. "Just wrong place, wrong time."
The 25-year-old rates former Orica-AIS teammate Tiffany Cromwell, Katrin Garfoot and her own teammates as the biggest threats to retaining her crown
"I am just trying to keep a clear head and focused," Elvin told Cyclingnews. "I was bit upset when it happened. I am disappointed, but in regard to my strategy for the road race, nothing changes.
"We are definitely after a win tomorrow," she continued. "It’s disappointing that after two races so far we have not come away with a win. Full credit to the girls that have won, but the pressure is on us."
Holding true to her promise to "sleep in her jersey" the night before the race she made to Cyclingnews at the official team launch in December, Elvin said she wore the jersey on her final training ride, before putting it into the wash for her final night’s sleep before her title defence.
"I do still plan on wearing it to bed. I admit it’s probably not the most comfortable thing to wear to bed, but I’m just trying to make the most of it.
However, Elvin makes assured Cyclingnews she is not ready to relinquish the green and gold just yet. "It's going to be an exciting race and as a team, but we are relaxed and everyone knows their job and we are confident.
"I really want to win. But if I do not, I would still be happy if someone on the Orica-AIS team takes it."