After finishing so close on so many occasions Rachel Neylan will be hoping that the stars align for her on Sunday in the women’s national road race. The Orica-AIS rider finished second last year but is highly motivated to secure her first national road title in what will be an extremely competitive race.
“Look, obviously I am extraordinarily motivated for a result tomorrow. I am always motivated for a national championships, I’ve come fourth, I’ve come third, I’ve come second…it could be my year but to be honest, we have an extraordinarily strong team and I am just really excited to race with these girls. It’s a really authentic, genuine, fun food dynamic with all the girls together this year.”
Neylan’s father passed away last year and the Australian talked to the media about his influence and support over the years and during her career.
"I am really, really happy being back racing in Australia in front of Australian crowds, I love Ballarat, that’s no secret and it’s also no secret that its been an extraordinary tough few months with my dad passing away four months ago. I bounced back for Worlds three weeks after my dad’s death so that’s been a pretty massive rollercoaster for me. He was a huge supporter for my cycling career so just holding that in my heart pretty proudly and just really, really happy to be backing racing on Australian soil for the first time ever in Orica colours. I was motivated when I put on the green and gold in Richmond straight afterwards, my dad gave me a lot of inspiration and a lot of freedom. He’s been one of my best mates and totally supported my whole cycling career from the word go so that’s a huge motivation tomorrow.
“It’s my first national championships with a full team and couldn’t be more excited to have a hit out on Buninyong with these girls, who have already proved that they are in extraordinarily good form. There is a significant number of us who can win the race tomorrow so that’s a really, really exciting factor for us tomorrow".
Neylan made the race winning move twelve months ago but finished second, behind Peta Mullens. It took time for Neylan to get over that loss but she came back to win the Cadel Evans race in the same month. This time around she is focused, prepared and has a strong team around her.
“It was all or nothing last year but this year it’s probably a bit more fun and tactics involved and the ability to share this experience with my teammates and go all in for a team result. We’re extremely focused on bringing the green and gold jersey to Orica-AIS and that’s the bottom line.”
Asked who her main rivals would be on Sunday, she said: “Definitely Peta Mullens, Tiffany Cromwell’s shown she is in good form. She can always prove herself around this course. Also Lauren Kitchen is in good form I think. There’s an increasing depth of NRS level riders which will elevate the competition of the field but I think those three are the main contenders for us tomorrow.”