Tiffany Cromwell is hoping an improved sprint will help her better 2013's impressive ninth place when she lines up in Saturday's UCI Road World Championship road race.
By
AAP

7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:34 PM

In a rare move, Cromwell has been named both race leader and team captain of Australia's six-women squad that will compete against the world's best in north-western Spain.

But the South Australian believes she's ready to shoulder the additional responsibility during the 127.4km race.

The 26-year-old says she's worked hard to improve her explosive power and is putting out more watts than ever before.

"You have to believe in winning or finishing on the podium or you may as well not even start," Cromwell told AAP.

"Definitely top five is very realistic. I've really built up good form the past couple of months since the Commonwealth Games.

"I've gone from strength to strength, I'm feeling confident."

Women's head coach Martin Barras says the key for Cromwell is controlling her urge to be overly aggressive.

"If you look at the strength of the other teams out there it dictates quite a patient race on her part, and patience is not Tiff's greatest asset," Barras said.

But he believes if she can conserve her energy the hilly course, which isn't as tough as Florence last year, suits her style of riding.

The pure sprinters could struggle to get over the two climbs on the 18.2km circuit.

Cromwell isn't an elite climber however should be able to hang tough and then unleash a relatively fast sprint.

"With Tiff you have a happy medium," said Barras.

"She was very conscious from the beginning of the season to try to become a little bit more powerful and particularly develop a better and faster sprint which has paid dividends for her.

"We're very confident that approach has prepared her well for this particular course."

Barras thinks if Cromwell races smart "she can come out somewhere around the top five".

She said she is committed to saving energy "and putting it into that one attack".

Teammates Rachel Neylan, who won silver in 2012, and Carlee Taylor are expected to play support roles deep into the race.

Barras says the pair have the necessary experience and physical prowess to get the job done.

Newcomers Katrin Garfoot and Lizzie Williams only joined European teams mid-season which means they'll be racing in Ponferrada without the burden of high expectations.

Rounding out the squad is Loren Rowney who, although not ideally suited to the hilly course, is in form having won a stage of the Tour de l'Ardeche in early September.

The first five days of the UCI Road World Championships will be live-streamed on the Cycling Central website, while the final two days will be broadcast on SBS ONE and streamed online.