Four-time national team pursuit champion Melissa Hoskins (Australia) says this week’s Cali World Cup in Colombia will give the squad one of their final in-competition opportunities to experiment with their combinations as the build up to next year’s Olympic Games approaches its pointy end.
In a discipline where balancing the power output of all the riders in the pursuit is crucial, Hoskins says that finding that "perfect balance" will be key to success in London.
"World Cups are the perfect opportunity for us to try different teams; different mixes of people different combinations, different tactics," said Hoskins to Cyclingnews. "The focus for the national team in Cali is honing that combination for the team pursuit - the World Cups are the best place to do that.
"All the teams here have strong girls. New Zealand, Great Britain, the Netherlands, the Americans - but it’s about finding that combination that works. It’s not just about having three girls who are good pursuit riders. The team needs to combine perfectly to win."
Joining Hoskins in Cali are Josie Tomic and Sarah Kent, who were both part of the World Championship winning team in Ballerup in 2010 as well as rising talent Annette Edmondson.
The competition for a place in the pursuit team is extremely tight with the other three riders in contention, Kate Bates, Amy Cure and Ashlee Ankudinoff boasting multiple world championships between them.
Seven does not go into four, and with recent benchmark performances from New Zealand at Oceania, and the Netherlands in Astana, selectors will have more than their fair share of headaches ahead of the Olympics.
Hoskins says the time is now for the team to start making a case that they will be a force in seven months time.
"I think considering the quality of teams here – all the big team pursuit teams are in Cali, if we want to show the rest of the world that we’re going to be performing in London we’ve got to start by putting our hand up here," said Hoskins.
"But it’s all about getting it to come together on the day in London. It might be awesome to win a World Cup or two along the way. But these races are really about experimentation. The Olympics are what matter."
Team success greater than individual success
Hoskins also maintained that her focus for London remained the team pursuit despite the potential for the 20-year-old to be competitive in the omnium in her own right. Very much a believer in the value of shared success over individual, the West Australian puts her love of pursuit riding down to her love of team sports.
"I think as much as it’s awesome to ride an individual event [like the omnium], there’s something about the team pursuit," said Hoskins. "It’s absolutely exhilarating riding for a team, and when it all just falls into place - it really has its highs emotionally - incomparable to individual success.
"When it comes down to it’s about us. It’s not about who’s on the other side of the track, it’s about how fast we can go. We’ve got the firepower to do [a good ride], but an effort like a team pursuit doesn’t come together overnight, and that’s what all the teams are working out at the moment - when you get it right though it’s an amazing feeling."
The team pursuit is the first event on the schedule for Cali, with qualifying taking place on Wednesday evening (30th November).