Young Australian rider Chloe Hosking is the latest talent from Down Under making it into the ranks of the Columbia-HTC 'superteam'. Hailing from the national capital of Canberra, the 19-year-old impressed in 2009 and caught the eye of Bob Stapleton and his management team, including Kristy Scrymgeour, a former national champion and Team Saturn professional.
Hosking's ability at the pointy end of a race has been the hallmark of her fledgling career and the reason she was offered a one-year contract riding alongside the likes of Ina Teutenberg, Judith Arndt and fellow Australian Kate Bates. A perfect example of the team's focus on complete rider development, Hosking is also undertaking tertiary study in media whilst managing her transition into the professional ranks.
The young sprinter will ride the Ladies Tour of Qatar in January next year before heading to the Redlands stage race and "possibly a couple of World Cup rounds". It's exciting times for the confident youngster, who seems to have taken a whirlwind 2009 all in her stride.
Cyclingnews: How did the ride with Columbia-HTC come about?
Chloe Hosking: I got an email from Kristy Scrymgeour saying that she'd been watching my results and would be really interested in having a chat. I was so excited.
It just went from there, really… a couple of emails back and forth before they offered me a stagiaire position for the Giro della Toscana in late September. I rode that and at the end they had a few talks with the national coach; obviously they were concerned about how young I am but they offered me a one-year contract. I'll be heading to a training camp straight after nationals before riding the Ladies Tour of Qatar.
CN: Is the prospect of riding against the world's best daunting?
CH: It's not really daunting. I spent all year riding against these girls and I'm driven by that fact. It's exciting for me, especially as I'm racing with one of the best teams in the world and hopefully I'll be able to have a significant impact on the race - that's what I'm looking forward to the most.
By Toscana I had already shown them what I was capable of - I'd taken some really good results earlier in the season - and because I'd try to go all the way from January through to September in my first season and I was really struggling. They could see that I was tired and at Toscana they wanted to see if I was able to mentally cope with being in a team like that.
CN: Were you part of the national team setup in Europe this year or did you do it the 'traditional' way?
CH: I hooked up a ride with a Dutch club team - Moving Ladies - and went over to Europe. When I was over there the national team approached me so I had a month-long stint with them before going back to my Dutch outfit. It's one of the best club teams and one of the best things I could have done for myself this year because I went straight to the Netherlands with the perfect style of racing for me.
I thrive on flat races, being a sprinter - flat, aggressive, technical races that are challenging; I think some girls struggle on the technical side of things but that's what I love about cycling and it's why I can't wait to get back over there.
CN: Speaking of the technical side of riding, you've got a track background, haven't you?
CH: I've been riding since I was 12 and I've been on the track since then and it's only the last couple of years that I've been more road focused. The track will always give you those skills and my dad is a road sprinter as well, so when I was little he would take me down to the lake and we'd have skills sessions and that type of thing. I've always been encouraged to throw some elbows and the odd headbutt.
CN: Tell us about your interests and pursuits outside of competitive cycling - you're fitting in study there somewhere...
CH: I got out of the junior ranks this year after representing Australia at the junior world championships and I didn't think there was an opening at the AIS for me, so I took the initiative and went to that Dutch team - I said to myself, ‘Go over for one year, put it all on the line and then I'll come home and go to university'. While uni is still happening, it's not quite what I had planned originally.
I'm really into writing and I think there's plenty to write about in cycling... I was originally going to do an arts/law degree and hoping to go into journalism later, but I had to reassess that when I found out I was going to be sending 10 months overseas in 2010. I'm now doing a Bachelor of Communications through Griffith University and hoping to major in journalism.
I find that having something else there also helps me maintain focus in my cycling - I think it's important to not just have cycling in your life, especially for women!
I'd love to use the skills I gain whilst pursuing my cycling - I'll be writing a monthly column in an Australian cycling magazine about the women's peloton so I've already got my foot in the door in that regard. Afterwards, I'd love to keep writing about cycling and raising the awareness about women's cycling. It's definitely something I will pursue after riding.
CN: Sometimes the depth of talent in women's cycling is questioned - what's your take on it?
CH: You do often see the same girls on the podium each week, and I think it's just a case of as the sport develops and more young women come through the ranks they'll see themselves up on the podium more often and that's encouraging. In Australia we've seen it - there's been a group of men come through and thanks to there being three or four strong guys then the rest lifted to that next level. Now there are six to eight really strong guys, and it's the same with the women.
CN: Where will you be based out of next season?
CH: Hopefully I'll be based in Girona, living with Tiffany Cromwell and Josie Tomic - it'll be good to live with some girls my own age and I know that Girona is the 'mecca' of cycling world for English-speaking professionals, which should be great.
Hosking on 'The Boss' - Bob Stapleton:
He's the nicest guy, so down-to-earth. We had a team dinner and Cav was there in his new [Audi] R8 - some hotted-up sports car - and as we were driving back to our accommodation someone said, ‘The boss paid for that car but he'd never be seen dead in it'. He's quite happy to drive a mini van or something…
He's like the father of the team and he's really into developing cycling - you see that with all the new young kids he's signed in the men's team and even in the women's [squad] there are a few young girls they're interested in developing.