Image: ©Kirsty Baxter
Tiffany Cromwell will kickstart the 2017 season for CANYON//SRAM Racing when she lines up in the Mars Australian national championship road race on Sunday 8 January. Whilst the 28 year old is hunting for the elusive green and gold jersey and would love to take it to Europe, Cromwell says she is taking a different approach to the race this year.
"My lead up to the nationals has been going well. It's been a shorter lead up than previous years with the 2016 season finishing so late, making my pre-season training begin later. That being said I've had a really solid block of training this last month starting in Europe and then continuing to build on that since returning to Australia. I wouldn't say I'm absolutely flying, but I'm feeling strong, fit and content with where I'm at currently."
Cromwell is putting the final touches on her nationals campaign at her home in Adelaide. "This year I'm probably going into the nationals the most relaxed I've ever been. That's not saying that I don't want to win, as of course I'd love to bring the jersey to Europe with me, but I've decided to not put a huge emphasis on the race this year and instead I'm just going to take it as it comes."
"The last years when I've put a lot of pressure on myself for nationals I've often been left disappointed as there's only so much you can do when you don't have any teammates. You really have to pick and choose where you use your energy and hope it's the right moments. The race is more often than not dictated by Orica-Scott and their strength in numbers so we'll just have to see how they play it this year and see if I can out smart them some way."
A small 69-rider field will take on the 102km course that tackles the Mt Buninyong climb ten times. "The peloton size is never a huge factor at nationals as at the end of the day it's a selective course and all the usual major Australian riders will be there when it comes crunch time," said Cromwell.
Whilst chasing the green and gold jersey Cromwell will use nationals as the starting point for an exciting 2017 with goals such as the Santos Women's Tour the following week in January, and the spring classics in Belgium starting in February on her radar.
"Basically I want to use the nationals as a building block to kick start the season. Have an impact on the race by believing in myself and willing to take a risk. If it happens to be my day and I find myself in the position to take the win, then I'm going to go for it 110%."
Racing starts at 08:00 (AEST) Sunday 8 January or 21:00 (BST) / 22:00 (CET) Saturday 7 January. Follow the action live from the team's Twitter @WMNcycling and using #RoadNats