Against the clock in 2016, Katrin Garfoot started with aplomb as the Orica-AIS rider won her maiden Australian time trial title in January and then added the Oceania title in early-March. The 34-year-old is all but secured one of two places that Australia has qualified for the Rio Olympic Games time trial on August 10, and with it, a place in the road race team four days prior off the back of her early-season performances.
Garfoot only took up cycling professionally in 2011 but her rise in the sport has been rapid with this season her most successful and consistent yet since joining Orica-AIS mid-way through the 2014 season. The first big international event in which the German-born Garfoot represented Australia in was the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, taking bronze in the time trial behind Emma Pooley and current world champion Linda Villumsen. Garfoot also earned selection for the 2014 Worlds where she placed 11th.
Speaking to Cyclingnews following a recent reconnaissance of the Rio courses, Garfoot explained that following Glasgow the idea of representing Australia in the Olympics had become a growing ambition.
"They have been playing on my mind since I started cycling and then from the Commonwealth Games I was thinking maybe I can go for Olympic Gold so it's been at the back of my mind," Garfoot said of the quadrennial event. "This year more so and the time trialling aspect of that has been quite prominent."
The 2015 Oceania Championships was Garfoot's first big win against the clock, having won the 2013 road race, and would mark the start of her run to become the premier Australian time trialist. Fourth place in the Giro Rosa time trial from Pisano to Nebbiuno last year, a percorso that Garfoot most likens to Rio, was further evidence of her development in the professional ranks. Sixth in the Boels Rental Ladies Tour time trial contributed to a second Worlds appearance where Garfoot was just nine seconds off gold, and four seconds off the podium.
That form was carried into 2016 which started with a bang for Garfoot as she quickly put her hand up for Rio selection with her time trial win, fourth in the road race having helped teammate Amanda Spratt to the win, and then a stage and overall at the Santos Women's Tour in January alone. Garfoot continued her run into the Ladies Tour of Qatar, winning stage 2 and pulling on the leader's jersey for a day.
"Qatar was nice in that I didn't expect anything there. I didn't believe enough so that result was cool with the surprise factor," Garfoot said of her solo win.
Garfoot's results and performances in Europe haven't dropped off either with eight at La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, second in the Festival Elsy Jacobs and more recently eighth at Boels Rental Hills Classic suggesting she will be a rider to watch on the tough Rio parcours.
From her recon of Rio, Garfoot explained that her impression is of a course "should suit me but is going to be hard".
"I don't think there is just one," she said when asked what was the most difficult aspect of the course. " I think that taking the right line will be difficult. Of course the steep bit is difficult, especially how you get up there with a heavy TT bike, and for the second long climb how much energy you have left."
Having proven herself as a rider who can rise to the challenge of performing on the world stage, as Glasgow and Richmond suggest, Garfoot is heading to Rio dreaming of standing atop the dais a mere five years on from taking up the sport.
"Gold would be beautiful (laughs), [the] podium would be beautiful too and just being there as well. I try to aim for the best result I can get, if it's gold I would happy," she said.