Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini) believes that Australia’s flagship women’s racing event – the Tour Down Under – provides homegrown talent with a prime taster of racing against the world's best and that young Australian riders can hone their skills against a world-class field.
Although the women’s Tour Down Under remains below WorldTour status it continues to improve its start list, infrastructure and promotion each year. In 2019, Hosking, Amanda Spratt, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Lotta Lepistö and Elisa Longo Borghini are among the riders to headline the four-stage event.
"We just saw an 18-year-old win our national championships, so that’s testament enough to the development of the sport here," Hosking told Cyclingnews after the women's pre-race press conference wrapped up on Wednesday.
"Obviously the domestic scene is really growing, and we're seeing huge talent coming out of there. There are these new, fresh, and young talents coming and winning important races. While at one point I'm like 'shit who are these girls?' it's also really refreshing to see that talent coming through.
"It helps, having big teams come over, like Mitchelton, CCC and Trek, but for me, the most exciting thing is exposing the Australian domestic riders to the high-class international racing. It’s a long way for us to go to Europe, and not everyone has that opportunity, so to bring it home is really special and a great opportunity."
Hosking, the Commonwealth Games road champion, compared the aspiring Australian crop of talent to the Dutch production line of champions, and what the future could hold for the future of her compatriots.
"The Dutch have been so dominant over the last few years because they have that talent there. It encourages competition and progression, and that's what I hope for women's cycling.
"This race gives the Australian girls the opportunity to see the international women race, and it's a different dynamic. It's real fireworks and I think it's good to expose the Australian riders to that. It shows them what they need to step up to and it fosters growth."
Hosking admitted that her form was not quite at its top level, yet, with her goals lying further down the road. However, her experience and explosive sprint will ensure that she is a prime candidate for several stages in this year's race. Hosking, 28, won the final stage of the 2018 race and won another stage in 2017.
"I've come into this race intentionally underdone because my focus is on later in the season. I’m looking to get some form out of this and support the Australian racing. I think there are some sprint opportunities for me and I think that’s what is so great about this race. Every rider has a chance, and that’s really important at this time of year."
Watch the Women's Tour Down Under stage 1 highlights video below.
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