Australian crit champ thinking beyond mastering circuit racing
Kimberley Wells waited a long time to be able to race overseas and so now, with a contract with US-based Fearless Femme p/b Pure Energy Cycling-Vie13, there's no holding back.
1 Physics the quantity of motion of a moving body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity.
2 the impetus gained by a moving object.
3 the impetus and driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events.
Wells, 27, earned her second victory of the US season on Monday winning the Tour of Somerville criterium. The result followed a month teeming with podiums, including another win at the Midtown Grand Prix but her victory on the Memorial Day holiday was particularly special, first across the line having sprinted away from a rare breakaway that stuck to the finish.
"The Tour of Somerville course is wide and open - it's not a breakaway course at all," Wells described to Cyclingnews. "As a team, we just kept attacking and attacking. You know, we thought we'd give it a go to see if a break could get away. There was actually a good break up the road with three riders in it, one of whom was my teammate, Erin Silliman, and she's not much of a sprinter but she's a good breakaway rider so we decided that one of us needed to go up there and help out as well.
"I bridged the gap and another girl came a bit later and we had a break of five riders. Even on the last lap I didn't know if the break would survive. It was really hard and trying to keep everyone motivated and working together was pretty tricky but we ended up averaging nearly 42k's an hour so we weren't slacking."
The back story
Wells win on January 1 this year at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic at the Geelong waterfront brought to light not just the Australian's talent but also her hunger to be racing in the first place. A doctor by trade, Wells had cut back her working hours in order to spend more time on the bike under the guidance of Olympic gold medallist, Sarah Carrigan. She finished the three-race criterium series in third place overall behind Melissa Hoskins (Orica-AIS) and Peta Mullens (Anytime Fitness Trek).
A week later, Wells was in shock having won her maiden Australian Criterium Championship in Ballarat in a photo finish from Loren Rowney (Specialized-lululemon). Before the end of a superb month, Wells had also won the Santos Women's Cup in Adelaide.
The form female rider of the Australian summer, Wells' name was on everyone's lips in cycling circles, from national selectors to the mainstream media, amazed by the gutsy decision to put her 'career' in the medical profession on hold. Her phone ran hot with offers but it was new team Fearless Femme that was the most attractive.
Knowing that a move Stateside wouldn't be until mid-March, with snow still on the ground in her New Hope base on the banks of the Delaware River, Wells took it easy, something she admits was "tricky" coming off such a hot run.
"It's a long season over here," Wells said. "We're racing for a solid six months right through to September so I really didn't want to get over here and burn out. There's always a part of you that finds it hard to let go of good form because you know how long it takes to get there and feels great to feel so fast. If you see the end goal you've got to let that go a bit and just bring yourself back up there again.
"The first couple of races here were hard because I knew I could go faster..."
Fearless in green and gold
Much like compatriot Jonathan Cantwell over three seasons before her, there is no better place to wear the green and gold bands of the Australian criterium champion than the US, with the calendar packed with the intense circuit racing. Wells' first race, was the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium in Charlotte before hitting her stride during Speed Week where she finished third overall, behind Erica Allar (CARE4CYCLING powered by Solomon) and teammate Theresa Cliff-Ryan.
It was actually the prospect of working with the likes of Cliff-Ryan that attracted Wells to joining Fearless Femme.
"It's hard to choose teams but I just wanted to go with the momentum of where I'm at, at the moment," Wells explained. "In the Fearless Femme line-up we are doing a lot of criteriums but I get to ride with some really great cyclists - Theresa Cliff-Ryan and Kelly Fisher-Goodwin - they've been there and they've done that and they carry so much experience with them that I'm just learning so much in being in a team with them. In terms of my development as a cyclist it's been a good move for me."
Criteriums however, aren't everything in the mind of Wells eager to take on other pathways in cycling, starting this weekend with the Philly Cycling Classic. Beyond that, she is also looking for opportunities to guest ride and tackle tour events, something she has the team's blessing on.
"I would really like to establish myself as an endurance sprinter on the road so the criteriums have been a great transition for me coming and racing overseas and being in such a well-supported team with lots of experience is letting me learn my craft as a sprinter. We just do so many races where I can practice that sprint craft so if I can transition well into road tours that's something that I'd really like to do.
"It's just a matter of opportunity and moving into the right environment."
With changes to the Australian national program coming into effect this season, allowing for a more flexible line-up of riders, Wells' name was mentioned by the likes of head coach Martin Barras as a potential starter back in January, all the while keen to see where the late bloomer would end up for 2013.
Should her plans to take on stage racing come to fruition, that spot on the national team might just happen. Wells certainly would like it to.
"It's something that I think about and since January I've had constant contact with the Australian development powers that be so we're definitely keeping each other informed of what's going on so it's happening," Wells admitted.
All roads in cycling tend to lead to Europe, how she'll get there, Wells is still unsure but it's unlikely that she'll take a backward step along the way.
"Just going with the momentum of it all is really important," she told Cyclingnews. "Everything that's been happening thus far has been continuing that momentum. I'm really enjoying my cycling, I'm learning lots, I'm having fun... I'm getting faster every day."
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