• Kineally (right) was in a long break with Emma Pooley at the Peter Clarke Memorial Kermesse. (Nicheliving Vault)Source: Nicheliving Vault
Erin Kineally is showing the world that the path to the top of the women’s peloton need not be through the junior academies and talent identification. The 32 year old, based in Western Australia, has rapidly gone through the ranks and is now looking for a permanent berth in the World Tour.
By
Jamie Finch-Penninger

22 Nov 2016 - 6:24 AM 

Speaking to Cycling Central after her first season racing in Europe, Erin Kineally went into what got her into racing.
“It wasn’t really a lightbulb moment for me, I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night and decide that I wanted to be a cyclist. I was encouraged to go on a Conquer Cancer ride to fund research and I bought my first bike just to do that and I found that it was a sport that I really loved.

“When I took it up I was 29 and it will be two years now that I did my first C Grade race. I didn’t finish, but I loved it.”

It’s a long way from C Grade to rubbing shoulders with the best in some of the toughest races in the world, but that has been the unlikely progression for Kineally and a kermesse win ahead of former world time trial champion Emma Pooley. Starting out as an equestrian and then getting into netball, it’s been a roundabout progression for the all-round athlete who has found her home in cycling.

“It’s been a quick progression but it’s easier when you’ve got that team camaraderie from great people around you. Plus I love going fast and racing the bike.”

Racing initially with Maaslandster Nicheliving CCN (now Maaslandster Veris), a Dutch-Australian joint venture before later guesting with the Australian Development team in the spring classics, the big Australian found that she thrived in the tough conditions.

“I love the windy races. I stand about six foot so I don’t mind the wind and I love the cobbles. That sort of stuff is right up my alley. The spring classics, the races that suit rouleurs which is my style of riding.”

“This was the first time in Europe for me, the first time not having to work and just having the role of being a cyclist. That was so different and the gap between the levels of racing in Australia and Europe is extraordinary. The skills needed to navigate through the peleton, the tricky sections like the cobbles covered in wet mud… it’s just a completely different level.”

“Being able to concentrate on just being a cyclist was so invaluable with racing being two to three races a week and being able to focus on recovery helped so much.”

The next step up is to be racing the World Tour as a professional, one which Kineally is driven in pursuing. 

“For sure, I have ambitions to race on the Women’s World Tour. I need to find a UCI team and to do that I need to keep showing myself in results and keep trying to put myself out there.”

“It’s going to tough, but I’m determined to get there.”

“The Women’s World Tour is where it’s at, you’re racing against the best women in the world with the toughest racing to go with it. I’d love to be able to solidify a pathway, to show it can be done, even if you are a late starter like me. Encouraging more women to get involved in racing is a big driver for me.”

The women’s peloton is an arena where athletes can go on to make a big impression, even if they miss out on the Institute of Sport spots early in their career. Perhaps the most famous recent example is Katrin Garfoot, who began racing at the same age as Kineally and now consistently contends in the big races and time trials.

Garfoot's unlikely path to Rio
It’s a long way from the Balmoral B-grade club criteriums to the pressure and the atmosphere of the Rio de Janiero Olympics. Few would have thought it possible for a 29-year-old making her racing debut in Murarrie, but with the team for the Games set to be announced soon Katrin Garfoot is all but certain to be announced as completing the unlikely feat.

“Yeah absolutely Kat is (an inspiration), Kristin Armstrong as well, winning Olympic gold at her age. Age is just a number really, I’ve you’ve got ‘it’ and you’re determined enough anyone can get to the top level of any sport. All you need is that determination, drive and passion to do it.”

“I’m really going to focus on having a good summer. I have to focus on that and that’s what I’m building towards now. I’m concentrating on the time trial, that’s where my strength is as a time-trial, leadout, rouleur-style of rider.”

Kineally showed that she is well on track to produce some stellar results this summer, warming up with a Stage 2 win at the Tour of Margaret River. Her team manager from her NRS racing days, Melissa Robinson, added her endorsement as she rejoined the Nicheliving squad for Margaret River.

“She’s completely committed and dedicated, very consistent with her training. Already she’s showing leadership qualities, speaking for this race in the team we have some young riders and the way she’s given back and encouraged them, it’s quite rare in an elite athlete. She’s got the ability and I’d love to see her get where she wants to go.”