Elvin aiming for debut European win in 2015

As the winner of the last two Australian national women's race road events, Grace Elvin enters the 2015 championships with a target on her back. A win next Saturday would see the 26-year-old tie Kathy Watt as the only female cyclists to have won the race three years running.

"I think the pressure is only from myself," Elvin said of the expectation ahead of the nationals. "I have very high expectations from myself and I'll be super nervous on the day but I am not thinking about it at the moment. The priority for me it to be super healthy and get into good form again. It's the kind of course that if you're in good shape then you have a good chance of winning and that's what I am focusing on."

In her two seasons with Orica-AIS, Elvin's only wins have come on the hilly Buninyong circuit. A statistic that Elvin is looking to change in 2015 but not after giving it her best to try and add another national title to her palmarès.

"The nationals would be awesome to win again but my focus is to go onto better things in a way," she told Cyclingnews. "I don't want to take the shine away from nationals, it means a lot to a lot Australian riders. I really need to step up and start winning overseas this year.

"It's been a dream for the last two years to have won the national title and it's really pushed me forward in a few years. You're so proud to represent Australia overseas, especially in Orica colours as Gerry Ryan has put so much into Australian cycling and it's a way to say thanks for his support."

Elvin joined Orica-AIS in 2013 having spent the previous year with the Faren-Honda Team, winning the 2012 Oceania Cycling Championships. In Elvin's two years with Orica-AIS, she has worn the green and gold jersey in almost every road race bar nationals, Commonwealth Games and the World Championships but was unable to show it off by celebrating victory.

Results such as sixth place at the Commonwealth Games road race last year suggest that Elvin is on the right trajectory for a break through European victory. A handful of top-ten places across the 2014 season was further evidence of Elvin's progression in the peloton and growing confidence in her ability.

However spraying champagne from the podium isn't the only goal for Elvin this year as she looks to play more of a leadership role for her young teammates.

"Now it's time to change my story a bit and move forward, I know I have it in me, I am just figuring it out a bit still," Elvin. "I am excited about 2015 and having a few new faces on the team. It's shaken things up a bit and I think the new riders will keep my honest and I want to step up.

"I've been really in the backseat trying to take it all in and I've learnt so much from the likes of Amanda Spratt and from the European girls, Loes [Gunnewijk] and Emma [Johansson]. Now I feel like I am ready and I do want to step up into that leadership role. I am excited and I have a bit more confidence and race experience."

Outlying her specific goals for the year, Elvin is clear on which races she wants to excel in.

"I am going to have a focused spring classics campaign," she said. "I love those races and they really suit me. I love the history and the atmosphere and in terms of my ability, that's where my strengths lie. I'd love to step it up in those couple of months and do well at Tour of Flanders, Het Nieuwsblad and a couple of others."

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