After coming nail-bitingly close to the coveted green-and-gold Australian national champion’s jersey in years past, Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM), who was second in the 2012 road race, has decided to change things up this year as she kick-starts her season at the Mars Australian National Championship Road Race on Sunday in Buninyong.
"This year I'm probably going into the nationals the most relaxed I've ever been,” Cromwell said. "That's not saying that I don't want to win, as of course I'd love to bring the jersey to Europe with me, but I've decided to not put a huge emphasis on the race this year and instead I'm just going to take it as it comes.
"The last years when I've put a lot of pressure on myself for nationals I've often been left disappointed as there's only so much you can do when you don't have any teammates," she said. "You really have to pick and choose where you use your energy and hope it's the right moments. The race is more often than not dictated by Orica-Scott and their strength in numbers, so we'll just have to see how they play it this year and see if I can out smart them some way."
Cromwell added to her palmares this year with third in Omloop het Nieuwsblad and a stage win at the Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile. With the world championships taking place in October, however, Cromwell’s 2016 season ended relatively late, meaning her shortest-ever build up to nationals.
"That being said, I've had a really solid block of training this last month starting in Europe and then continuing to build on that since returning to Australia," she said. "I wouldn't say I'm absolutely flying, but I'm feeling strong, fit and content with where I'm at currently."
Following her attempt to win her first national title, Cromwell will jump into a 2017 season that includes goals such as the Santos Women's Tour the following week in January, and then the spring classics in Belgium starting in February.
"Basically I want to use the nationals as a building block to kick-start the season – have an impact on the race by believing in myself and willing to take a risk,” said the winner of the 2013 Omloop het Nieuwsblad. "If it happens to be my day and I find myself in the position to take the win, then I'm going to go for it 110 per cent."