• Jessica Allen's breakthrough win came at the 2017 Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships. (Kathryn Watt- Watt Shotz Photography)Source: Kathryn Watt- Watt Shotz Photography
The emotion was very real for after the finish to the women’s Criterium national championship in Ballarat. Jessica Allen (Orica-Scott) showed verve and strength to attack and hold off the chasers to claim her first senior national title.
Jamie Finch-Penninger

Cycling Central
5 Jan 2017 - 7:05 AM  UPDATED 5 Jan 2017 - 7:12 AM

It was the second win in two days for Allen, who also attacked to win on the final stage of the Bay Criteriums in Williamstown. It was a just reward for the West Australian who has seen the highs and lows of cycling firsthand in her forays onto the professional scene.

“I was pretty lost for words, I couldn’t actually believe it," Allen said. "In the last two laps, I’m like ‘I’m going to win this’. My salute yesterday was pretty rubbish so I had to top that.”

SBS and Fox to broadcast 2017 MARS Road Nationals
SBS and Fox Sports have been confirmed as broadcast partners for the 2017 MARS Cycling Australia Road Nationals Championships, with the two networks to provide an expanded coverage of ‘Super Sunday’ in 2017.

Allen was earmarked for a special career from an early age when she won the time trial at the junior world championships in 2011. From there, it hasn’t quite been the promised rise for the 23-year-old.

“Post-2011 and the junior time trial I got the Amy Gillet Foundation scholarship that was fantastic and I was the ambassador for that for the year, which allowed me to race in Europe for three months as a senior," Allen said.

"That went really well and then the following year I raced for my first professional team Vienne Futuroscope which is a French professional team, I was only 19 or 20 years old then and that really cracked me, to be honest.”

It is a situation that is all too common in elite cycling overseas with many riders being packed off outside familiar environments with family and friends, then finding that trade teams don’t always offer the support or atmosphere that is conducive to a healthy mental state.

“I wasn’t sure where I was where I was going with my cycling, I was a bit too young to be over there for that long. I got pretty lonely, I was in quite an isolated situation.

“The last couple of years I went over to North America and found my love for the sport again. Also did some piloting with Jessica Gallagher on the tandem but wasn’t quite strong enough for that.”

Under the tutelage of Donna Rae-Szalinski, who has since progressed to becoming the Sports Director for Wiggle-High5, Allen started with renewed purpose in 2016, which saw her selected for the High5 National Development team.

It took her back to Europe and placed her under the eye of Orica-Scott who offered her a stagiare position for the back half of the season.

“Last year, I raced with High5 Dreamteam in the NRS (National Road Series) which was really great. I had a really great start to the season, raced with the national team, did really well in Europe and got picked up by Orica," Allen said.

“For women, we don’t do it for the money we do it for the passion. It was a big question whether I wanted to commit so much and leave so much behind if I didn’t want to do it. But I love the sport and last year I really found my love for the sport again.”

“It was huge, it’s something I’ve been wanting my whole career and to have people believe in me it’s really awesome. In the last six months, I’ve learned so much from them. We have a great group of girls with so much experience. I’m looking forward to paying them back.”

“It’s probably similar to when I won the junior world championships. You do put a lot behind you to do this sport and it’s a tough sport but I love it. You always dream of wearing the Aussie jersey, so to put it on you get tingles and it makes all the hard work worth it.”

Ewan defends Australian criterium title
Caleb Ewan was too strong for his sprint rivals as he won the national criterium championship for the second-straight year.