What's Cool In Road Cycling

In Her Own Words: Melissa Hoskins Previews Chongming Races

ORICA-AIS headed to China on Sunday to acclimate to a six hour time difference (Europe – China) ahead of the start of the Tour of Chongming Island. The three day stage race runs Wednesday – Friday and serves as prelude to round five of World Cup racing on Sunday.

Last year, the Melissa Hoskins won two stages and the overall at the Tour of Chongming Island before finishing second two days later at the Chongming Island World Cup. The defending champion returns, and in her own words, she tells you what you can expect from the Chinese races.

Flat and fast are an understatement when it comes to these two races. All four days of racing typically end in a bunch sprint. I raced in China for the first time last year, and with a super strong sprint train, we won the first and third stages of the Tour.

There’s not much to split this race, and most teams bring their best sprinters, so competition is fierce. I haven’t had a good look at the start list yet, but I know there are some teams here this year that we didn’t see last year, and there are quite a few teams missing this year that raced in China previously. Shelley Olds (Team TIBCO) and Monia Baccaille (MCipollini) proved top rivals last year with Baccaille taking the stage two victory and Olds winning the World Cup.

I had hoped to target this event, but I’m the first to admit that I haven’t had the smoothest build-up to these races. While there’s pressure to defend our win and hopefully snag a World Cup victory, too, it’s more of a team pressure than a personal pressure. Any one of the riders we have on our China roster can sprint, so if it’s not me, we can work for someone like Emma [Johansson] or Nettie [Edmondson].

As a team, we tend to take things one day at a time. Maybe we want to target the overall classification at the Tour, but we’d do that looking at each stage as it’s own race. We focus on getting the job done today before we think about tomorrow. We’ll take on the first stage, and see how it goes from there. Our race plan may also depend on the weather. Last year, the World Cup was killer – it was wet almost the entire day.

If the first stage goes well, and we decide to focus on the overall, we have to worry about more than just the final sprint. There are bonus seconds up for grabs at intermediate sprints and on the finish line, and those proved important last year. If every day ends in a sprint, it’s the only way to put time into a rival.

The World Cup course on Sunday includes the passage over a massive ten kilometre bridge. While the race typically ends in a bunch sprint, I’ve heard that there is sometimes enough wind to split the field over this bridge. We’ll need to be especially attentive to our position at this point in the race.

I think the main reason we were successful last year was because we had such an organised sprint train. We had riders like Juds [Judith Arndt] acting as the driving force behind that. Our sprint train was awesome the two days that we won. The two days that we didn’t win, we had gotten something a little bit wrong at the end. Organisation and communication was where we won it or lost it last year. I expect nothing different this year.

ORICA-AIS for Tour of Chongming Island and Chongming World Cup:

Annette Edmondson (@nettieedmondson)
Emma Johansson (@emmaprocyclist)
Jessie MacLean (@aussiejessmac)
Loes Gunnewijk (@loesgunnewijk)
Melissa Hoskins (@melissamhoskins)
Sungeun Gu (@eun1709)

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