With her first overseas race as a professional at HTC-Columbia done and dusted, Australia's Chloe Hosking is looking forward to a year of learning with the American squad. Two top six finishes at the Tour of Qatar against some of the world's top sprinters has given Hosking an early season boost.
"It really does give me a lot of confidence," Hosking told Cyclingnews. "It has cemented the fact that, while I'm 19, I do have the speed to compete with some of the fastest girls in the world. So I'm really looking forward to the season."
While her international debut with HTC-Columbia in the Middle East was successful, Hosking admitted it's also shown some areas where she's in need of improvement. "I think I can beat them but I've got a lot to learn, which was really evident in Qatar," she said. "I just made a lot of smaller mistakes with timing and positioning that will be easy to fix and once I do hopefully I'll be able to come out on top.
"Throughout the race I've got to do little things to conserve my energy rather than wasting it in moments that aren't crucial to the race," Hosking added. "It's all learning and at this level of the sport it's so different to when you're just racing in Australia. It will just come with time, I hope."
Hosking crashed on the final day in Qatar but escaped with just bruising and a little skin loss. With the crash occurring at high speed in the final 150 metres, Hoskings admitted she was lucky to escape without more serious injuries.
"The photos actually made it look a lot worse than it actually was," she said. "It was just a bit of skin off my knees and some bruises, I was quiet lucky really.
"My poor parents didn't get my e-mail saying that 'I'm okay, don't look at the pictures,' so all they saw was the pictures," she added. "They were freaking out, ringing everyone they could think of trying to find out how I was."
Hosking will travel to California in the United States of America for a month of racing in March. She'll contest several domestic races Stateside, including the Redlands Bicycle Classic, before heading to Europe. She's looking forward to contesting her first UCI Women's World Cup race which will be Unive Ronde van Drenthe in April.
"Obviously I've got Ina at HTC-Columbia so I can learn so much from her," said Hosking. "I just want to go in with a really open mind and I can't wait to get started.
"This year is about learning," she added. "It's the biggest team in the world and there's so much to be gained by just sitting back with my eyes and ears open; just try to soak everything up."
With this year's Commonwealth Games being staged on a flat sprinter's course in India, Hosking has her eye set on making the Australian squad and winning the event. The Commonwealth race isn't the only event Hosking is hoping to represent her country at this year.
"Obviously with the world championships in Melbourne, who doesn't want to ride that," she said.