The off season was full of twists and turns for South Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell, who chose to rejoin the Australian National Team program after the Team Skyter she’d signed with for 2010 nearly collapsed. A second twist in Emma Mackie falling ill saw Cromwell drafted into Australia’s lineup for the Ladies Tour of Qatar just four days before it commenced last week.
Despite the last minute notice Cromwell admitted she was relieved to have her first overseas race behind her following the turbulent off-season. “With everything that happened it just motivated me even more to ride strong and have a really good pre-season build up so I can go into the Classics with the best possible form,” Cromwell told Cyclingnews. “It’s going pretty good at the moment, I’m pretty happy with my early season form. I’m definitely fit, I’ve been doing lots of base kilometres and my power is a lot stronger at the moment, so I can’t really complain.”
Cromwell wasn’t the only rider to return to the national team ranks after the former Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung team’s new sponsor Skyter fell through. While the powerhouse of German’s women’s squad narrowly avoided complete collapse, Beijing Olympic Games gold medallist Nicole Cooke also joined her Great Britain National Team.
While Cromwell hopes results this season will bring her a new professional contract, she’s also embracing the opportunity at hand. Returning to the Australian National Team will see her take on more responsibility with helping younger riders develop, an opportunity she’s relishing.
“The first thing is to try and get a new professional contract, try to get the mid-year changeover,” said Cromwell. “I’m working with national coach Martin Barras who is fully committed to me and is supporting that as our major goal. But also going back to the national team gives me a lot more opportunities.
“Come China when the Australian Institute of Sport squad comes over to Europe I’ll be more of a general classification rider and I can also help some of the newer girls coming through with race tactics and things like that,” she added. “I think it will be a good opportunity for me to be a bit more of a leader. Going to a professional team is really special, though at the team I would have been with I’d have been more of a domestique worker because we had such a class team. So this is a completely different roll for me.”
Cromwell described the support she’s received from Cycling Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport as unbelievable. It’s a big year for Australian cycling with the International Cycling Unionn (UCI) World Road Championships to be held in Melbourne on top of being a Commonwealth Games year and Cromwell is hoping to play a role in both events.
“I’d definitely love to do the Commonwealth Games but the course itself doesn’t suit me because it’s completely flat,” she said. “On the profile it looks like it’s really hard, but if you look at the meterage it’s basically a little hump in a criterium circuit. But they always need workers and I’ve shown that I can ride on the flat and give it my all for the sprinters.”
“The world championships will be bigger for me, especially being at home,” she added. “After seeing the course there it will suite more of a rider like myself or Ruth Corset. I still see it hard being a sprinter and getting around there, for the women’s race in particular.”
Cromwell will complete another training camp in Victoria before heading to the Women’s Tour of New Zealand later this month. From there Cromwell will return to Europe to commence her season there, with her early season heavily focused around the classics.