One of the standout performers within Australian women's cycling in 2012, Melissa Hoskins (Orica-AIS) is enjoying her time on the road while she can. A return to the track lies in Hoskins’ immediate future but the three days of racing on offer at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic is not something she is taking for granted.
The 21-year-old is on the verge of claiming her second successive overall title at the Bay Crits, despite not winning a stage. It was the same situation for Hoskins last year at the event, and while she has been surprised at the way the three-race series has played out, the yellow jersey remains the best indicator of her consistency. It's not a bad situation for Hoskins to be in considering she was unsure of her form heading into the event.
The reason for Hoskins' uncertainty is the recent heatwave experienced in her home state of Western Australia, the hottest week in 80 years with an average maximum temperature of just under 40 degrees Celsius. It was a source of frustration for many of the local riders including Luke Durbridge, Cameron Meyer and adopted local, Graeme Brown who all took to social media during the course of the difficult week.
"For training it's extremely hard," Hoskins told Cyclingnews. "You can't beat the heat when it's a minimum of 25. It makes you feel really lethargic.
"I was supposed to be out doing motor-pacing with some sprints but I ended up going home because it just wasn't happening... It wasn't looking too good a few days ago."
This early part of the season will see Hoskins juggle her track and road commitments with the UCI Track World Championships in Minsk fast approaching at the end of February. Fellow West Australian Cameron Meyer experienced some of his best results on the track following on from decent stints on the road, but Hoskins knows that it won't be an easy ride from her perspective.
"The guys are a little bit of a different breed. After I did the Bay Crits last year, it took me a good two or three weeks to get back. I was absolutely in a hole, to be honest. It was about the time where it was getting critical for us to be going well. I was carrying awesome road form in the sprints but on the track I wasn't sprinting and it was coming down to selection. It came good at the right time and I was all the better, stronger for it."
Hoskins went on to win two silver medals at the 2012 Track World Championships in Melbourne, in the team pursuit and the Scratch Race. Then she was back on the road for Orica-AIS, taking the overall win at the Tour of Chongming Island before her attention once again was on the track for the Olympic Games. With more racing on the road in 2013, Hoskins should be confident of another solid year.