Relaxed, scoring results and racing Oceanias
Chloe Hosking has always said it like it is. 2012 began in a blaze when she called UCI President Pat McQuaid "a d**k" for his comments regarding the status of women's cycling but she let her legs do the talking back in Europe, winning Drentse 8 and Halle-Buizingen, emotions spilling over. However towards the end of the season, the wheels had come off. Out of contention in the women's road race at the Olympic Games, she recovered her confidence somewhat to win a stage of La Route de France but later that month, the Canberra-based sprinter learned that her contract with Specialized-lululemon was not going to be renewed. Two months of living in limbo followed, unsure of her next move.
"It was definitely a roller coaster, that's a good way to put it," Hosking told Cyclingnews. "For me, the big thing was that this is still really what I want to do. When you didn't have a contract it would have been so easy to say, I'll just go back to Australia and finish my university and get a real job. That wasn't what I wanted.
"I still feel like there's a lot more to achieve. It was a good reality check and it's given me a lot more perspective."
In signing with Norweigan outfit Hitec Products, Hosking has fallen on her feet and with three years of racing with "one of the best teams in the world with the best riders in the world" under the Highroad / Specialized-lululemon banner, is now hoping to pass on some of her own lessons to the younger members of the squad.
While many athletes struggle off the back of an Olympic year, without that all-consuming goal of selection and for a select few, a result, driving them on, Hosking believes that the renewed perspective that has occurred out of the back end of last season has resulted in a better approach to her racing. The 23-year-old is focused on consistency throughout the season for Hitec, with the UCI Road World Championship course in Tuscany not playing to her strengths.
"It doesn't matter what bike race you win it still feels just as good," Hosking explained.
"It's a matter of still trying to win races and also making sure that I really enjoy my cycling and have a balanced approach," she continued. "Last year was such a stressful year with selection and everything post Olympics so for me I've been trying to be more relaxed and for me that reflects in my riding."
So far, Hosking's new outlook is working. A stage win and a stint in the lead at the Ladies Tour of Qatar before finishing second overall; top 10 in Drentse 8 and then fourth in the first World Cup race of the season, Ronde van Drenthe. Her experience in Qatar however, showed that while Hosking is now racing for a different team, some ties are not easily broken. Hosking has long looked up to German veteran and former teammate Ina Teutenberg so it was not surprising that the former under 23 criterium champion sought her guidance after Kirsten Wild (Team Argos-Shimano) took the Australian's race lead.
"I really enjoyed racing and working with Ina," said Hosking. "And we still have quite a close relationship. I know I can always email her and ask for advice and she's more than willing to give it.
"In Qatar when I lost the yellow on the second last stage I emailed her and asked her: 'How do you think I can win this?' She came back to me straight away and was always willing to give me advice. I feel really fortunate that I still have that relationship with her. I had three years with that team and I really enjoyed my time there racing with the girls but it's a good time to move on."
This weekend, courtesy of her sister's wedding, Hosking is back at home in Australia and racing the Oceania Road Championships in Canberra. Entry into the event wasn't planned but ever the pragmatist, Hosking decided it was a case of why not and so she'll take her place alongside a quality field on Saturday that includes Carla Ryan, Carlee Taylor, Ruth Corset, Grace Sulzberger and Taryn Heather.
"It was a massive shock coming back to almost 30 degrees after racing at minus two or whatever it was," Hosking explained with the east coast of Australia experiencing a balmy start to autumn. "Family does come first. It's the same races every year and I'm going to have a lot more opportunities to race the ones that I'm missing. My sister only gets married once, hopefully. It was a no brainer."
Hosking's return to Europe at the end of the month will see her take on the five-day Energiewacht Tour in the Netherlands, but despite the stint back at home, she plans to be well-prepared with plenty of speed work on her agenda in the meantime.
"My coach Eric Haakonssen and I will look to be doing a lot of ergo and motor pacing stuff to bring the speed up," she said. "It's a race that I'm really targeting. I've never done it before I've waited two years so I'm very excited. It's Dutch racing. It's going to be fast, it's going to be windy and it's what I love. So hopefully I can continue on what has been a pretty good season so far."
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