A local media report named Chloe Hosking as a "Qatar 2016 ambassador" when she accompanied the newly-established Qatari women's team on a training ride earlier this week, but the Australian is hopeful of landing a loftier title when she returns to Doha for the world championships in two years' time.
Now in her fifth participation at the Ladies Tour of Qatar, Hosking's sharp sense of positioning in an echelon and rapid sprint finish are well-suited to racing in the gulf state. A stage winner last year, the Hitec Products rider has been overall leader Kirsten Wild's most persistent rival in the sprints this time around, and is hopeful that such dress rehearsals will serve her well ahead of the 2016 Worlds.
"It's my huge goal, that's what I'm working towards," Hosking told Cyclingnews of the Qatar world championships. "I think the course in Rio [for the 2016 Olympics] isn't really up my alley, so my focus is on the Qatar world championships."
The flat terrain of Qatar lends itself to a sprinters' course, and twelve months ago, both Eddy Merckx and representatives of the Qatar Cycling Federation poured cold water on the notion that a climb would be constructed especially for the race, even if the rumour is one that persists.
"I'm not really sure what the course is going to be like because I think they can build anything here," Hosking said. "They could build a massive hill, so you never know. I've heard all different things, I heard talk about a tunnel with air conditioning. We'll have to wait and see, but I love racing in Qatar."
A circuit race in a rather different climate is one of the primary targets of Hosking's 2014 season, as she bids for a place in the Australian squad for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July. "That's the big goal, but obviously I have to get selected and I'll find out in late June whether I've been selected," said Hosking.
The Glasgow course was used for the British road race championships last June, and while it will not be quite as suited to Hosking's talents as the likely Doha circuit, she can take heart from the fact that fast finishers Mark Cavendish and Lizzie Armitstead won titles there last year.
"I've heard it's quite technical with short, sharp power climbs, but anything can happen in a race like that," said Hosking. "I'll just have to see if I get selected for the Australian team, because we can only bring six and there are a lot of girls vying for selection."
Other objectives for Hosking in 2014 include the Ronde van Drenthe, the Holland Ladies Tour – and completing her journalism course at Griffith University in Queensland. "I do it totally online. Griffith has been really great because I'm on a scholarship with them and they help with extensions and that sort of thing as racing gets in the way a lot of the time," she said. "When I'm finished I'll probably have a year of study break and then look at doing a postgrad law degree or something."
Indeed, in a blog post last month, Hosking articulated her view on the anti-doping system and made the case for the necessity of the whereabouts system, rebutting tennis player Novak Djokovic's criticism of WADA.
"It's amazing how many people I speak to who don't realise that's what's required of us and they really find it interesting," Hosking said. "I just thought I'd write something up on that and I'm really happy with the feedback I've got. And I think it's a good way to let people into the sport, too, and that's what women's cycling has to do."
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