By John Flynn
The sub-script to the weekend's 'State of Origin' women's event at Australia's Grand Prix Cycling Tour on the Gold Coast was very much about the Beijing Olympics and the all important issue of qualifying for the three positions available in Australia's women's team to contest the road race and time trial. The issue will come to a head at next month's Australian Open Road Championships in Ballarat - a key selection event for the Olympics - where standout performances will be noticed.
Victories in the Open road race and time trial won't guarantee a place in the Olympic team, but the winners of the green and gold striped jerseys will prove difficult to dislodge from Australia's shadow team for Beijing.
While the weekend's result was little to go by, given most of Australia's elite cycling women are deep into a training block, Rochelle Gilmore was satisfied her plans for the national titles are on schedule. Gilmore has set herself lofty goals, given the Mount Bunninyong course is not suited to sprinters.
"Road Nationals is the big goal, that's been my goal since I come back from Europe," Gilmore affirmed. "It's a very tough course and it's not suited to a sprinter, a good race there will prove to myself that I'm becoming more of a complete rider."
Gilmore has specifically targeted the toughest hills in the Gold Coast Hinterland during her recent training block, including the brutal Tomewin Mountain Road, as she aims to lift her climbing to a new level. The reality of making the road team for Beijing means she will need to be climbing on-par with Oenone Wood.
"I improved on the hills in Europe this year and it'll be a real test to come back to our National Title and see how I go against girls that I could never match, the likes of Nat Bates, Oenone Wood, Olivia Gollan, Nikki Egyed and Sara (Carrigan) herself," Gilmore said. "I have to be climbing at least as good or better than Oenone Wood (to make the Beijing team), she's been ranked number one in the world, we're both ranked in the top 20 in the world at the moment.
"I'm certainly getting there and maybe in the next two months I'll be matching her."