Fresh from re-signing with her Alé Cipollini team, Chloe Hosking is looking to reward them this summer with a victory on home soil. The 26-year-old Australian heads into the Giro Rosa this week with hopes set on adding to the stage victory she picked up in the race last year.
In what was a bumper year for Hosking, she beat soon-to-be teammate Marta Tagliaferro and current teammate Giorgia Bronzini into Lendinara on stage 3. In an Italian team there is more pressure on Hosking to deliver, particularly after a stage win at the Women's Tour earlier in the month, but she hopes that she can rise to the occasion.
"Last year, winning the stage at the Giro I think that was my season highlight even over La Course," Hosking told Cyclingnews. "I think it's such a beautiful race for women's cycling and going there with an Italian team, there's more an element of pressure, but hopefully I can rise to the situation and deliver a stage win. We have quite a strong team going to the Giro. People often forget that Marta Bastianelli is a former World Champion. We've also got her."
Over the first part of the season, Hosking has been getting to know her new teammates on and off the bike. Knowing what makes them tick and how they function in a bike race is crucial to working efficiently and effectively in a race situation. For Hosking, one of the most important aspects will be the sprint train. Once a novelty, they are now par for the course, and Alé Cipollini has been refining theirs ahead of the Giro Rosa.
The Italian race, the only Grand Tour on the women's calendar, will be the first big opportunity to see how Alé Cipollini shapes up against the bigger teams. Hosking believes that they've made some big steps, but she's ready to fly solo if needs be.
"I think we did a lot of good work in China, but we haven't really been tested at the top level when everyone is going," explained Hoksing. "I think that the best team for a lead-out is Canyon-SRAM and we haven't been up against them yet. The Giro will be the first opportunity for that. We'll just have to see how it goes.
"I like to have a lead-out, but I don't [need it]. I can win races without it. I just have to see how it goes at the Giro and we'll go from there."
Chloe Hosking wins the Ovo Energy Women's Tour's third stage. (Tim De Waele/TDWSport)
Planning for the future
Hosking joined the Alé Cipollini team over the winter after stints with some of the biggest teams in the women's peloton: HTC-Highroad, Specialized-Lululemon, Hitec Products and Wiggle-High5. While the team is long established, going to Alé Cipollini was a trip into the unknown for Hosking. However, she has been pleased with the set-up, which was demonstrated this week by the announcement she had added a year onto her current one-year deal, keeping her at the team until at least the end of 2018.
"I've been so impressed by the organisation of the team but also by how they support athletes. They understand the importance of scheduling and planning and how that helps athletes reach their goals, and that's something that I had been lacking in the last couple of years," Hoksing told Cyclingnews. "I think I'm really lucky because I have a good relationship with Fortunato [Lacquaniti – sports director, ed.]. I think that we're able to work really well together. None of these stereotypes of Italian teams has come to fruition. I think we did quite a good job with the mix of riders we have.
"I can't say anything negative. I know that riders wouldn't because they know it's an interview, but I've been really happy."
As well as securing her future for a little while longer on the bike, Hosking has been looking to ensure her future when she does eventually give up cycling. For the past year and a half, Hosking has been doing a distance learning postgraduate law course with the Australian National University. It's going to take six years in total, but it's an opportunity to make sure she is set up for the future.
"I'm under no illusions. I know that I'm not making my fortune in cycling. I'm making sure that I'm mostly set up for post-cycling," she said.
"When I first finished school, I wanted to do law but that was 10 years ago and there weren't the same online degrees available. Then this came up, it was a new thing coming up out of Australia. I would like to do athlete management when I finish cycling so it would be really good for contract negotiations and sponsor deals."
Balancing her studies, her racing and her personal life has been a steep learning curve in time management. "I found the spring really easy but now I'm finding the Tours really difficult. I had an assignment due on Sunday when the last stage of the Women's Tour was on.
"I'm lucky though, as they are quite flexible. I always speak to them at the start of the semester and talk to them about what I do and who I am and everything, so I got an extension. I try to do some reading when I'm racing, but I get most of the work done in between the races."