Australia has never won the women's road race title at the World Championships but this Saturday they have their best chance yet with in-form sprinter Chloe Hosking. Tiffany Cromwell will be one of the six riders backing Hosking's bid for glory in Doha, and the 29-year-old is excited at the prospect of having a race favourite in the team.
"It's super exciting, and Chloe has shown she has always been a strong sprinter but this year I think that she's really got things on the right page," Cromwell told Cyclingnews in the expansive lobby of the Australian team's hotel in Doha.
"She knew from the get-go that Qatar was always her goal. It suits her down to the ground, she's good technically, she won't lose your wheel if she's on it. Chloe, she knows what she's doing, and this sprint is perfect for her. Within the team, we have a lot of belief in that and her abilities. When you are on the same page, that's what makes it exciting."
Cromwell arrived in Doha on Wednesday and got her first opportunity to test the course and the conditions on Thursday morning ahead of the under-23 men's road race.
As with the men, many of the riders had a chance to test out the course earlier this year at the Tour of Qatar. On that occasion they only went around the Pearl once before heading out towards Qatar University in the north of the city. Like many, she is a little disappointed that they don't get to venture out into the desert, but she's looking forward to duking it out in what is expected to be a fast and furious race if the other road races are anything to go by.
"It is a shame because the beauty of Qatar when we race it is that it is known for the crosswinds. Although, I've been told that it's rare to get a windy day in October," said Cromwell. "It's basically a giant criterium. It's going to be a very fast race and there are some very technical sections too and that's very much my cup of tea. I love technical, and I love fast. I quite like the course, and there's more to it than there's going to be a bunch sprint.
"It lends itself to a bunch sprint, but you never know. There is always the chance for that breakaway if it isn't aggressive enough. With the corners, I think that it may make it harder to bring something back."
One advantage of staying out of the desert is avoiding the worst of the temperatures that Qatar has to offer. The Pearl is relatively sheltered by the surrounding buildings in comparison to the barren desert and, mercifully, things are expected to cool down as we move into the weekend. It should still be around the mid-30s, however, and the temperature could play a factor in the final sprint.
"You only have so many blows in your legs in the sprint and top sprinters will lose their top end so that is what opens it up," she explained. "Lisa Brennauer is a perfect example if she can be good in the heat, she isn't as fast as maybe Kirsten [Wild] or Chloe, but that heat makes it a bit more even as the top end sprinters don't have quite as much extra punch.”
Cromwell, like others, has been using her ingenuity to help herself prepare for the condition. In the run-up to the Worlds, she and the Australian team headed to Gavirate, Italy for a team training camp where they trained in rooms with the heating on high. The sauna has been another useful tool in preparing for the humidity. As an Australian, though, heat is not something that concerns Cromwell too much having ridden in temperatures higher than what is expected for the women's road race.
"We've been taught from a very young age about hydration and keeping cool and using all those methods to make sure that we have enough electrolytes so that you can make sure that you sustain [yourself throughout] the entire race and not get dehydrated. That's what it comes down to. It's poor nutrition strategy if you can't get through a race because it's too hot."