Kimberley Wells was in a state of disbelief after taking out the Australian criterium title early Thursday evening. Wells won her first national championship in a photo finish against European professional Loren Rowney (Specialized - lululemon) and hopes that she can use that momentum to gain a spot on a professional team overseas.
Wells and her teammates were warming-down shortly after the race, ensuring their legs remain in good condition ahead of the Australian Road Race Championships on Saturday. For Wells, who really only focussed on cycling full-time since 2012, has been one of the top criterium riders in recent months but was elated with her biggest win to date.
"It's massive to me, I just wanted this so badly," said Wells still in shock following her narrow win over Rowney. "For it to finally happen I just can't believe it.
"I think it's going to take quite a while for it to sink in. It's such a big win for me and our team. We've really struck ourselves on the map," Wells told Cyclingnews.
Wells' Specialized-Securitor teammates assisted her throughout the 30-lap women's race and have supported her superbly at the recent NSW Grand Prix races in December and the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic - which began on New Year's Day. Wells won the opening round on the tight Geelong course and took another podium finish on the way to third overall.
The 27-year-old thanked her teammates during her post-race interviews and says the level of support given by her squad means she can concentrate solely on getting the job done. Wells explained that squad members are continually discussing tactics and about how they can work effectively together. It's this level of camaraderie within the team that has made them a force during recent months.
"We've got a team manager running things Liz Phillipou, she takes care of all the logistics for a lot of our races. At National's we've got Paul McDonald as a mechanic and bit of a soigneur. He's taking care of all the little things. That's makes such a big difference.
"We are always taking together about how we can work together as a team and get the best results. It's just been an amazing team that I've been involved with over the past year," explained Wells.
While only starting to touch the sides of what she could achieve Wells is already eyeing a spot abroad. The exact location is yet to be determined but a national championship will surely aid her quest for greater things. With the recent changes made to the Australian National Team, Wells could also find herself as a candidate for a guest spot in the coming year.
"My goal for 2013 is to get myself racing overseas. Whether that is in America or Europe, whatever is the right fit for me in terms of team and style of racing.
"I carry a lot of speed through these sort of crit races and I've got a good kick on for my sprints. That's a dangerous thing in racing so I'd love to use that to overseas. Until that happens I'm really happy racing in this team and in the National Road Series.
"It would be an honour to be considered in a team (Australian National Team) at that kind of level. I'm always willing to commit to the team that I'm in and really learn and grow. That's an exciting prospect," Wells told Cyclingnews.
Those who watched the footage from the 'Bay Crits' would have witnessed Wells' daredevil approach to racing and attributes her fearless attitude to her experiences growing up with two older brothers.
"I've played a lot of sports growing up and also have two older brothers so that's fostered that competitiveness. Anyone that's ever been around us knows how competitive we get about everything from playing a board game to sports or even when we were growing up who was the tallest.
"Find anything and we'll compete for it. Having done a lot of different sports you kind of get a feel for the flow of a game or a race. At that crit in Geelong I knew when I had to go to win it. I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants in that last corner but that was the move you had to do. I'm not scared so you just have to go for it."
The criterium's victory toast will have to wait for Wells as she looks to road race for another result. Wells believes she's got plenty of endurance in her legs but notes that a lot will depend on the other team’s tactics. If a move gets clear toward the finish with her in it, she should be in with a shot of taking a second title.
"I've got a lot of k's in my legs for the endurance side of things but it's still about racing smart and conserving energy when you need to. In those critical moments during a race you need to be able to follow if it's turning into a break.
"It really depends of the tactics of the teams on the day. I'm going to have to watch what the race is doing. I'll be following breaks if they've got some contenders in them."