Peta Mullens is one of those interesting athletes who comes along every once in a while that can prove difficult to categorise, if not manage.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:39 PM

She is a former cross country mountain bike national champion and now she's beaten many of the best Australian road riders at their game. She can pretty much do anything on two wheels.

After a injury affected 2014 where she mixed her mountain bike passions with service for the Wiggle Honda professional team on the road, she chose to ride on the dirt for 2015.

So today, Australia has a road champion who may not get the opportunity to show the green and gold in some of the biggest road races in the world.

"Of all the national titles I've won, I'm a mountain biker, I would still prefer to win this," Mullens said. "It is by far the most prestigious and hardest to win and especially with the depth that we have in women's cycling.

"It's a bit ironic because it is supposed to be my only road race for the year and now that I have won the stripes, I might have to change my plans."

Post race Mullens explained her decision to commit to the dirt as one determined by the amount of support she could receive from the high performance road program, but none was forthcoming.

"Last year I made a phone call to Martin Barras (the national women's road coach) and I said to him I want to go to the mountain bikes and on the road, I want to go to the Olympics on the mountain bike and the road, and he pretty much laughed at me and said 'that's not possible, we don't necessarily support that sort of thing'.

"And I though oh well then if I'm not going to be supported in that sort of way then I'm just going to go for the mountain bike and that's my passion.

"I'd like to think maybe I've got the talent to be there on the road but I need that support as well.

"Maybe another phone call."

I fully understand Barras's point of view, the sporting world is full of highly specialised athletes who are good at doing that one thing at a world class level. It's become a necessity to win.

If I were in his position I'd probably say the same thing. But sometimes in an elite program like the one Barras manages, there needs to be flexibility enough to include athletes who may be outliers, to help them achieve their dreams, to help them be the absolute best they can be.

It should be obvious after today that Mullens has proven herself to be one of those outliers.

Barras shouldn't wait for the call from Mullens. He should make it.