Ruby Roseman-Gannon is stepping up to the professional ranks this season, having signed for Australian Women’s WorldTeam BikeExchange-Jayco, and even though the year is barely two weeks old she’s already stepped into it with impressive style.
The 23 year-old won both stages of the opening event of the Australian summer of racing, the Lexus of Blackburn Bay Crits, and is now looking hopefully – and a little nervously – forward to Australia’s Road National Championships. Roseman-Gannon has already twice made it to the second step of the criterium elite podium at the race – even while she was still an U23 rider in 2020 – and has also finished in the top ten of the elite road race.
Even as she has continued to impress with her nous and speed in the top-level domestic racing series, at the Australian summer of racing and on the track, the rider from Melbourne also managed to complete a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. Now, though, the racer – who spent her formative years at the Brunswick Cycling Club along with Sarah Gigante and Luke Plapp – is set to turn her complete focus on cycling as she steps into her first year as a professional and learns the ropes in Europe.
Cyclingnews spoke to Roseman-Gannon this week to find out more about her journey from the local velodrome, at the end of her street, to the WorldTour.
Cyclingnews: Let’s start with a quick rundown of your cycling history. When did you know racing bikes was the sport for you and can you tell us a bit about how you have balanced track and road?
Ruby Roseman-Gannon: Basically at the end of my street is a velodrome and my dad was part of the club [Brunswick Cycling Club] and then he took me down there in 2004, when I was five. I actually remember him explaining the concept of a track bike where you couldn't stop pedalling and you couldn't brake and I was like that is such a bizarre thing. But I did it anyway and I crashed twice on the first time I started. I wasn't super obsessed with the sport, but I just kept coming back.
I think it was probably 2012ish when I started going up to the junior ranks that I really started enjoying the sport, loving it, enjoying race-craft and fully really loving cycling. I was mostly on the track, but I was also doing road then and I found that naturally road came a bit easier to me because the the longer the race was the better I got and I struggled on the shorter track disciplines. Throughout my teenage years, I kept racing track and road, and I still had a lot of emphasis on my studies because I was quite passionate about doing well academically. Then halfway through university I finally made the Australian track academy, which is a development programme to get to the Olympic level. At that point I decided that I had to put all my energy into cycling if I was going to do it. Since then I've made some big improvements.
Cyclingnews: You are making the step to Europe this year with BikeExchange-Jayco after a number of years of standout performances in Australia. Was it a conscious decision to wait before turning pro on the road or a matter of circumstance and opportunity?
Roseman-Gannon: Probably a combination of both. Up until 2020 I didn't really see a road career as a feasible option because I just really hadn't been at the level where I could think about that. But then after the summer of cycling in 2020 [ed.- when she came a close second to top sprinter Chloe Hosking in the Nationals criterium and 12th in the Women's WorldTour ranked Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race] that was the first time I felt I was actually getting there and it was a possibility. Then of course COVID happened and I did have a few options for 2021, but they weren't the right options in terms of the security I wanted going overseas, making that big step, and especially because I did have another year in the track programme. To leave that track programme and go overseas with COVID, less financial security, less support, it just didn't make sense. I also still had to finish one more year of my university degree so I think probably a combination of COVID, uni, and just having this support back home meant it made sense to stay here until this year.
Cyclingnews: Do you think it'll make it a bit easier, as you are perhaps going into the step as a stronger rider because of the delay?
Roseman-Gannon: I did ride in Europe for a short period of time in 2019,] and I came in after a pretty heavy exam block. I think I had five exams in two weeks,and then I left the week after which was really challenging because at the races I did I wasn't at the fitness required and then I also didn't have the experience required. I feel a bit more confident this time coming in knowing I have more physical capability, knowing that I can position myself ... hopefully I'm not going to be as fatigued as when I was racing in 2019 as when you're at your physical and mental limit, that's when it gets very challenging.
Cyclingnews: Do you think that that focus on track for a while has actually given you a bit of a leg up in positioning and managing yourself in a sprint?
Roseman-Gannon: I think going to Europe is definitely diving in the deep end in terms of the skills required. I don't really think you can replicate that very well in Australia anywhere but I think having the track background, with that really tight racing and really needing to rely on being able to get into position in a sprint, but also racing local levels in men's racing with bigger pelotons. That's something I've done, I guess prioritised even at a younger age, and that I really enjoy. It's not really about racing with the men, its just racing in a big group because racing with 20 riders is completely different to racing with 60 plus and just the dynamics of the race and knowing what's a bridgeable gap and using other people, all those sorts of elements. I think that sort of club racing has definitely helped me get more confident and develop.
Cyclingnews: You had a great end to 2021 with the win in the NRS racing at Cycle Sunshine Coast and then a great start to the year in 2022, lining up with the Lexus of Blackburn team at Bay Crits and winning both stages. How does it feel stepping into your first year as a professional already having those wins behind you?
Roseman-Gannon: It's definitely good. I felt a lot of pressure going into the tour at the National Road Series and Bay Crits and with Nationals coming up just because even though I guess nothing's really changed, it does feel like there's an element of people's expectations and my own expectations in living up to that standard. I've definitely had to do a bit of work on managing those expectations and reframing the way I'm seeing these races. But at the end of the day, I absolutely love racing and I love the flow and getting into a race and just executing as best I can, and that's basically what I've been doing.
I really enjoy racing here (in Australia) and I'm definitely going to miss the racing scene here. I think the National Road Series this year, 2022, in particular is going to be one of the best NRS series we are going to see, with just the standard of riding and the distribution of riders over the teams. I'm excited to watch that but I'm also really excited to make that next step up because I think I'm ready for it, more than ever.
Cyclingnews: Even though you mentioned the pressure of expectation that has come with the level step up, in another way does it alleviate the pressure as your position is now assured?
Roseman-Gannon: I guess, every position you are in has a different challenge and for a while the challenge was believing in myself enough to give myself a chance and then the next period I went through was the pressure of trying to be noticed, trying to make a team and get enough results. Now, in some ways it's an easier pressure but in other ways not, it's the pressure of expectation and not being the underdog who's trying to beat someone.
Cycliingnews: It has been an interesting year to start with BikeExchange-Jayco as normally you would be coming into a team with strong numbers during the Australian season, but numbers are lower this year. Does it make you feel like you stand out more in that BikeExchange-Jayco kit?
Roseman-Gannon: A little bit. It is a strange year. I think we're probably going to have two riders in the races this weekend so it is strange because BikeExchange has traditionally had a lot more riders ... but it's just the way it is, I guess, with COVID and the way everything has panned out. Also it's a small team but a strong team so I'm excited. Alex Manly [Roseman-Gannon's teammate at Road Nationals] is one of the smartest bike riders I know.
Cyclingnews: A day out from the criterium [we spoke to Roseman-Gannon on Thusday afternoon] how are you feeling? What are you thinking?
Roseman-Gannon: I'm feeling pre-race nerves as per usual but I'm just doing my best to manage them, but I'm excited. This criterium in particular I really, really like but I also have a lot of frustration with it just because I have been close but not quite there in the past. I'm excited for tomorrow and hopefully I can finish it off this time.
Cyclingnews: And what are your thoughts on the road race?
Roseman-Gannon: I think this year it is going to be an exciting race because I don't think any team really can control it. The pro riders all have one or two riders and then with the NRS teams, there are some with numbers, but I don't think they're strong enough to fully control it. So it'll be interesting to see if anyone's willing to let a move get away, like last year, because I don't think we're going to see anything come back. In which case it might just be a pressure cooker for the whole race – a really defensive or aggressive race – but yes, I think it's going to be a hard race and I'm pretty excited for it.
There are so many strong NRS riders who really have the chance to put it up to us, so it's going to be definitely a challenge.
Cyclingnews: After this year's Santos Festival of Cycling are you heading straight to Europe, or is there a bit of downtime between?
Roseman-Gannon: Just a few days so it will be pretty much straight to Europe after that.
Cyclingnews: And do you have any picture of what your year is going to look like?
Roseman-Gannon: I'm hoping to come in for a fairly strong Classics season, and I guess I'm just excited to get my first race in over there, just to get a feel for it and to see actually where I am at. But I think we're going to have a pretty strong sprint team this year with Georgia Baker and Alex Manly coming in and the sprinters on the team that have been there in previous years. It's exciting to see what we can do with that.
Cyclingnews: How do you see your role once you are over in Europe? Is it a learning year, or perhaps a learning year combined with a few opportunities in there?
Roseman-Gannon: It's difficult to say just because I haven't really had the experience to say with any confidence where I'm coming in at. But I think probably over the first few races I'll see how I am faring and at the end of the day there are a lot more experienced riders in the team, so I'll definitely be supporting them. I think if I am going really well then there may be opportunities, but we'll see.
Cyclingnews: When you come out of the end of your first year, what do you want to have achieved?
Roseman-Gannon: Just continuing on my development trajectory and improving my physiology and skills and tactics. Then I hope to feel quite comfortable in the racing environment in Europe so that I can execute and race my natural race. Each next step up ... I've found really challenging to get to that place just because there's so much new stuff going on – new riders, you don't really know where you fit in and and you don't know what the etiquette is – and I really hope to develop that comfort in that bunch so that I can just go into my natural mode and with my basic Instinct rather than having to overthink things.
Cyclingnews: What are your longer term goals as a cyclist?
Roseman-Gannon: First and foremost, I just love racing so I think the opportunity to do this full time is very, very cool. It's something I never really thought was possible when I was really young just because the professionalisation of the sport wasn't really there, which is why I guess I've kept an emphasis on studies. But I think I'm also someone who has pretty high standards for myself, and perfectionistic tendencies, so really every race I race I want to do my best and I want to keep improving.
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