Cyclist Cromwell dreams of podium in Italy

Tiffany Cromwell, Carlee Taylor and Shara Gillow will carry Australia's hopes in the women's road race at the world championships in Italy.

Australia's women cyclists are hoping to slip under the radar and clinch a medal in the world championships road race on Saturday as the more fancied Dutch and Italian teams watch each other.

Competent climbers Tiffany Cromwell, Carlee Taylor and Shara Gillow are Australia's best bets for a podium place on the hilly 140km course into Florence.

Cromwell, 25, has been building towards the worlds all season.

"I saw the course about this time last year and, the moment I saw it, I knew it was my style of course," the South Australian told AAP.

Although the Aussies are not considered a major threat in Saturday's race, Cromwell believes the team could have the numbers when it counts because she, along with Taylor and Gillow, "can all hold our ground on the climbs".

"We can back each other up and that's going to be the key in the finish because it will be a battle of numbers particularly as the Italians will be playing the Dutch and the Dutch will be playing the Italians."

The race concludes with five laps of a 16.6km circuit. Cromwell expects to be able to hang on up the 4.3km climb to Fiesole and the small punchier rise that follows.

She's also confident the technical descent plays to her strengths.

"If I play it smart and play my cards right, I'm strong enough to be there and contend to try and get on the podium."

Many commentators believe the race is Dutchwoman Marianne Vos's to lose.

Cromwell notes, however, that the reigning world champion has occasionally been vulnerable on longer climbs on tougher circuits.

But that's where the good news ends.

"They (the Dutch) also have another very strong rider in Anna van der Breggen and she could potentially step up," the Australian said.

"She's good enough to be better than Vos - so they have those two cards."

Other names to watch on Saturday include in-form Italian Rossella Ratto and Swede Emma Johansson.

Australian team director Martin Barras argues dual-world champion Giorgia Bronzini from Italy probably won't make it to the end given the lumpy nature of the course.

The veteran coach expects there'll be an "immediate selection" the first time the peloton hits the circuit.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it comes down to possibly 30 or 40 riders within the first lap," he told AAP.

"You're likely to see a fairly intricate game of chess over the set-up portion of the race.

"What's going to be determinant is when Vos actually wants to start racing."

Barras is confident the Australian squad will be in the mix.

"We won't be the market trend or the prize makers - we'll be prize takers.

"Our group, although it's still very, very young, it's quite experienced now so I'm confident they'll do well."

3 min read
Published 26 September 2013 at 10:17am
Source: AAP