Chloe Hosking has always had the reputation as one of fastest finishers in the peloton but she has taken her results to the next level this year. With seven wins in UCI races including the high-profile La Course and in the Giro Rosa, also taking out a general classification in the Women’s WorldTour and winning the Tour of Chongming Island.
With the World Championships fast approaching, Hosking spoke to Cycling Central about her season to date and the big race in Qatar.
“I sat down with my coach at the end of last season after I got an injury and called the season done,” Hosking said. “In some ways that was good as I had the luxury of being able to plan the (2016) season, with the focus being on Doha.”
“It was always part of the plan to be in good form for the Australian summer, then carry that form to the Ladies Tour of Qatar. That worked really well, I was sixth at nationals, good for me… perhaps it wouldn’t be as good for others and then I went a won a sprint finish in Qatar.”
“After that I dropped off, which was tough mentally but I had to keep telling myself that this was the plan. Then I went to China (Tour of Chongming Island, where Hosking won a stage and the overall) and things began really clicking after that.
Hosking’s uptick in form coincided with her trade team, Wiggle High5, also starting to hit their straps after rivals Boels Dolmans had dominated the early rounds of WorldTour racing.
“I won the Giro stage, then La Course and a stage at Route de France, then capped it off with a second at Madrid Challenge and a win on the weekend (the GP Bruno Beghilli). So it’s really given me some momentum, it’s been confidence boost on confidence boost leading into the World Championships.”
After her superb results, it was little surprise that she was selected for the Australia team for the road world championships, alongside a strong team that is be expected to be competitive if the race evolves into a bunch sprint or a more selective race.
“Now joining up with the Australia team, it’s great to see the trust they’ve put in me and the support and commitment to getting the best result for Australia. It’s exciting, it’s nerve-wracking, but also really motivating.”
“All of us girls, we’ve known each other for so long but we haven’t necessarily ridden that much together so it’s been good to get used to following each other’s wheels and work on the cohesion.
“It’s also nice to be back in an Aussie environment, where we all give each other shit. It’s a really good group of girls.”
“It’s such a strong team for this course, which adds to the excitement and the anticipation of it all. It’s probably the best course, out of the major events (Olympics and Commonwealth Games, World Championships), that suits the riders that we have had in a long time. It almost adds to the nerves.”
The course in Qatar was given a test run in February during the Tour of Qatar, where Kirstin Wild (Hitec Products/Netherlands) emerged the winner in a bunch sprint.
SBS will be broadcasting the women's and men's elite road races from the World Championships on SBS HD and streaming online.
“It was a bit different to the stage we did in Qatar, there were only two laps of the circuit when there will be seven at the World Champs and then went ten kilometres further to finish. So while we’ve been round the course, it’s not exactly the same as sprinting on the finish, etc.
“It’s definitely very different to what people expected when they announced the World Championships would be in Qatar. I won’t say it’s like riding around a city, but there are big hotels are around and it’s on an island so I don’t think the wind is going but it is very technical.”
“If you’re not comfortable going around corners fast, you’re going to be in trouble.”
“There’s none of those really long, straight sections and I don’t think you’re going to see what often occurs at the Tour of Qatar, the peloton shredding to bits and only a small group remaining up front. It’s a course where everyone is saying that it’s going to be a bunch sprint, but there are a lot of other ways it can go as well.”
There are of course a host of other favourites that Hosking will have to overcome to take home the rainbow stripes, with an incredibly strong Dutch team containing noted fast women of the peloton in Kirstin Wild, Marianne Vos (Rabobank-Liv) and Chantal Blaak.
“The entire Dutch team, the Italians have four sprinters on their team… actually one of my directors said to me that my biggest rivals will come from within my trade team (Wiggle-High5). Jolien D’Hoore (Belgium) and Giorgia Bronzini (Italy), but I’m not sure… I’ll just go and ride my own race.”
It’s been a long journey for Hosking to get to this point in her career, where she heads into a world championship as one of the big names on everyone’s lips.
Heading overseas to Europe at the age of 18, there was less of a streamlined process for women looking to become professional riders than the men.
Hosking bounced around a number of teams before finding a home at Wiggle-High5, where she has achieved excellent results.
In a move that has been aimed at addressing her cycling/life balance, Hosking has announced that she will be moving on next year to Ale Cippolini-Galassia and spending a large part of the year training and living in Canberra.
“I’ve been in Europe since I was 18, every year since then I’ve been spending less and less time in Australia. It’s funny, at the start I never got homesick. I said to myself ‘Spain is my home now’, my training home in Girona."
“As I’ve got older, I find myself missing my family and my partner. This year I committed with Doha in mind, I haven’t been home at all, which has been really tough. Luckily my parents and sister love to travel, my partner doesn’t love the flight so much but he likes riding his bike in Europe.
“So it’s been great that they’ve been able to do that, but for next year it was a priority for me to find a better balance. I’ll still try and stay at the top of the sport, I know it won’t be easy.”
More immediately, all the focus is on performing in the Qatari desert.
“I’m really happy that I’m at this point of the season, two weeks out and I’m still enjoying riding my bike. Often you get to this point and you can’t wait for the season to be over but I feel like I’m still building and I’m itching to get there and race.”