‘Hey mum’ may not be a refrain you’d usually hear amongst the peloton of top level racing in Australia, but Ruth Corset's two daughters have been working to change that. They’ve managed to convince the 2010 Australian champion to line up alongside them, perhaps to the peril of her rivals, as it's clear that the 44-year-old's seasons of retirement have done little to dent her formidable racing strength.
The latest mother-daughter racing adventure for the Corsets has been the Santos Festival of Cycling, where the youngest, 17-year-old Caitlin, joined Ruth on VA Pro Racing to line-up not only with Australia’s top domestic riders, but also a selection of WorldTour riders, including Grace Brown and Amanda Spratt.
“Yeah, the best part was being right next to mum on the start line though,” Caitlin – who clearly doesn’t need to look far for cycling inspiration – told Cyclingnews.
“Mum has been my biggest inspiration all my life and I've always wanted to go to the races and be just like Mum. So she's the main drive for me and main motivation to keep me going. I want to get to the level which she's at and which she was at when she was racing professionally overseas."
Unfortunately for Caitlin, while she got to line up alongside Ruth – her second time racing a National Road Series event and first at the competitive field in South Australia – didn’t go quite to plan. The rider from Townsville getting caught behind a very early crash, which lead to a long hard day off the back. Deep into the race she could be seen in a small group, continuing to chase and trying to push the pace in the hopes of making it within the time cut so she could line up another day. Unfortunately it wasn't to be.
“It was a good experience,” Caitlin said, despite being out the back. “I still really enjoyed racing today.”
And while Caitlin worked through her first experience of racing in that big competitive bunch in South Australia her mother was up the front trying not to worry too much about her daughter behind so she could utilise that vast array of experience she had already accumulated to make her rivals nervous instead.
Ruth headed toward the line in the final kilometres of stage 1 at the Santos Festival of Cycling among a break of three, and while it was caught and the race ended in a sprint, she still managed to finish in the top ten. Then on stage 2, as Caitlin watched on and cheered from the roadside this time, Ruth delivered a consistently aggressive ride with a number of attempts at getting away plus netted the Queen of the Mountain points, and took the lead in the classification.
"I didn't really know how my form would be because I did some local racing last year, but I haven't raced at this level for five years,” Ruth told Cyclingnews before riding herself into the Queen of the Mountains jersey on stage 2. “I don’t know if I'm back to how I used to be, but yeah, it's great to be able to be in the mix with top riders in Australia, that's for sure."
The performance at the Santos Festival of Cycling so far comes after a sixth place in the women’s elite and U23 road race at Australia’s National Road Championships. That was actually a race she had been hoping to ride with one of her daughters as well, but this time it was 20 year-old Stephanie she was planning to line up with, as the request from her children to do one race with them continued to stretch.
“Initially I said, 'no, no, no, I'm happy just watching both of you'. And then I thought, actually, it would be very special to race together,” said Ruth. “So I decided to do one race with them in the Queensland Road Series and it was so special that first race, the three of us racing together and the girls loved it and so then they talked me into doing more races with them.
"Stephanie talked me into doing Nationals with her in January because she's under 23 now and so we would have been racing together, but then her accident happened.”
Stephanie was hit by a car while out training ten weeks ago and suffered a fracture of the C7 vertebrae, ribs and facial fractures plus concussion. Ruth, who was there when it happened, said fortunately her daughter is recovering well and is now set to return to the bike shortly.
After that accident, Corset had been set to pull the pin on racing at Nationals, but her eldest insisted she should still go, so she could watch, and Stephanie is also watching the racing unfold at the Santos Festival of Cycling from afar where, had all gone to plan, Ruth would have been racing with both her daughters.
That trio, however, is likely to get that chance later in the year instead, with Ruth committed to racing alongside her daughters at VA Pro Racing for 2022.
“After that I don't know. If I continue to enjoy it, which I am, I'm really enjoying it so far, and Stephanie is already trying to talk me into racing Nationals next year with her," said Ruth. "Next year Caitlin will be a first year under 23 as well. So they're saying, ‘Oh, it'll be the three of us racing nationals together,' so I don't know. We'll see.”
"There is still a lot of convincing to do," chimed in Caitlin.
But Corset, it seems, has two daughters who are very good at being convincing.
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