Malseed secures Commonwealth Games start with debut Australian road title

Previously an Oceania road race champion and overall women's National Road Series winner, Shannon Malseed completed a rare treble by winning the Australian road title on Sunday in her adopted hometown of Ballarat.

The recently turned 23-year-old rode a "sneaky" race on her full debut for her new TIBCO-SVB team. Katrin Garfoot had attacked inside the final three kilometres of the race and came within 50 metres of a consecutive road race and time trial double, but was swept up just short of the line, swamped by Malseed, Lauren Kitchen (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), Grace Brown (Holden Team Gusto) and Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott).

Timing her run to the line to perfection, Malseed claimed the win ahead of her more fancied rivals. Too excited to raise both arms in the air to celebrate, Malseed was overcome by the moment as she explained.

"I passed Kat and then Spratty and Kitchen started to fade and I realised I was about to cross the line, I sort of prepped myself for the double hander but I was so overwhelmed that I could only balance one hand in the air. I think I lost my voice a little bit. I screamed so loud. It is absolutely amazing," said Malseed who won the U23 road race and criterium titles in 2015.

A Ballarat resident for the last three years, Malseed is well acquainted with the roads of the country city. It's no surprise then that Malseed had "ridden that course like a million times in the last few months."

"I knew that I had the physical form coming into the nationals this year," she added. "I am riding the best that I have ever ridden and I knew that if I could hang on up that climb, I have a decent sprint on me. I am a little bit sneaky. I knew I had a chance and that is all I needed.

"I am so proud of myself and everybody who has been part of my development. I am so thankful."

Until 2018, Malseed's cycling career knew life only on the Holden Women's Cycling team run by Julien Knuppel and the Australian national development team. Signing for the American TIBCO-SVB squad this year, Malseed will meet her new team on Tuesday in Adelaide for the Santos Women's Tour, bringing along the present of a green and gold jersey. The Cadel Evans Road Race and Women's Herald Sun Tour then follow on home soil with the new team.

Malseed's next race in Australia will then be the Commonwealth Games with the road race winner automatically qualifying for the April event; another item ticked off on her cycling bucket list.

"Going to the Commonwealth Games is a pipe dream to me and I am really grateful I get to go," she said. "I want to see who the team is and I am really excited for that to be announced. I think I will be in a support role, to be honest. That is probably the most realistic thing that is going to happen, but I am 100 per cent going to support the Aussie team as best as I can."

For Malseed, a national title and place on the Commonwealth Games team would never have been possible without former team manager and coach Knuppel and the pathways provided via national teams in Europe. A restructure of the national teams and a shift towards the track by Cycling Australia last year resulted in the dissolution of a national development team. A shift in priorities that Malseed believes will negatively impact younger riders looking to emulate her success.

"I am not going to hide my disappointment in that decision," she said. "I think it is a crucial part of developing the road team for the women and I really hope that something can step through so people like myself can get the chance to get themselves over to Europe and race.

"It was a big part of my development, along with being on the Holden Women's Cycling team for five years. There is no shortage of knowledge and experience with Julien as DS and as my coach. I can't even express how grateful I am to have him on my side the whole way.”

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