Orica-AIS standout Shara Gillow is looking for redemption. The three-time Australian national time trial champion failed to make it four in a row in Ballarat in January, but come Friday in her native Queensland, the 26-year-old Olympian looks to avenge a rare loss at the Aussie nationals and become a four-time winner of the Oceania Championships after skipping the event in 2013.
Gillow, a two-time Oceania time trial (2011, 2012) and road race champion (2011), had missed two weeks of training due to a chest infection just days prior to the Aussie Road Nationals and finished 32 seconds behind Felicity Wardlaw of Victoria to take silver and thus end her bid for a four-peat.
While Gillow will compete in both disciplines at Oceania, she tells Cyclingnews that the time trial is the only thing on her mind at the moment.
"The TT is very important to me," she said. "It's what I do and what I love, and a win would give me my fourth Oceania title and that would be very special to me. Then I can focus on the road race."
On the time trial start list, Gillow descends the ramp one minute ahead of Wardlaw who caps the 12-woman elite field on the out-and-back 25km course that Gillow confidently claims is ideally suited for her.
"I conducted a recon of the course and really like it," she said. "It's fast and undulating on some open country roads. It's been hot, and I expect some wind but my training has been going really well. I am at 100 per cent physically - and mentally - and feel really good about my chances."
While disheartened with her performance in Ballarat, Gillow wasted little time mourning her loss at nationals, as she played a critical role in supporting Orica teammate Gracie Elvin's successful bid to capture her second straight national road race title before taking a stage three win of her own and leading Orica to a clean sweep at the Santos Women's Cup in Adelaide a week later during the Tour Down Under.
After the women's 106.5km road race on Saturday, Gillow will immediately join her Orica teammates in Europe to defend their top-ranked UCI women's team status before turning her focus on the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July and the UCI Road World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain in September.
"The two big events I am targeting this year are the Commonwealth Games and world championships," she said. "Success at Oceania will serve as a stepping stone toward those goals and as a gauge of my current form."
On being the only Orica-AIS representative at Oceania, Gillow tells Cyclingnews that while she may have target on her back, she feels no added pressure to perform.
"Luke [Durbridge] and I may be the only Orica team riders for the men and women, but at the end of the day we have a job to do and we will be prepared," said Gillow, the second eldest of seven children, many of which will be in attendance with her mother and father from nearby Sunshine Coast.
"For me personally it gives me an added mental boost knowing that I am representing the number one-ranked women's team in the world," she added. "I want to bring home a win, especially in front of my family who rarely get an opportunity to watch me race professionally due to my European schedule.
"I am excited and I am ready."