Peloton Watch
  Alex Manly Interview Junior Track World Championships  
  August 23th 2014  
  It has been a whirlwind four and a half years for South Australian Alexandra Manly. The past twelve months have been the most exciting culminating with two rainbow jerseys at the recent Track World Championships in Korea.

Last year Alexandra Manly took bronze in the World Time Trial Championship and eighth in the road race in Italy. This year Manly has again split her time between the track and the road, claiming gold in the U19 IP in January beating then World Champion Lauren Perry in the process. A brief return to the road saw her win the time trial at the Oceania Road Championships in February. Silver and bronze in the road race and time trial respectively at the Australian Road Nationals followed before her attention returned to the track.

On the second day of Track Worlds in Korea earlier this month Manly teamed up with Macey Stewart, Lauren Perry, Josie Talbot and Danielle McKinnirey to claim her maiden world title in the team pursuit. The following day Manly was in a league of her own in the individual pursuit. Qualifying fastest to make the final before sweeping to gold in 2:24.624, by over three seconds.

PelotonWatch: You have won gold at Australian Track Championships, Oceania Road Championships and now World Track Championships in 2014. It has been quite a year for you.

Alex Manly: Yes a year I wonít forget in a hurry.

PW: Track Worlds started off for you with the team pursuit. The new format involved an extra ride to make it through to the gold medal final. What sort of impact did this play?

AM: Having three rounds definitely made it harder, but we had just come from track camp and were well prepared to back up after the first two rounds. We had a team focus on control, so we could look after each other as much as possible. Having three rounds also gave more opportunities for all our riders, as we used five people in rotation instead of four and we all got to ride at least twice. I think in retrospect it may have helped us win gold as our endurance training held us in good shape.

PW: What did it feel like pulling on your first rainbow jersey? Were you able to take confidence from the TP gold in to the individual pursuit the next day?

AM: Putting on the Australian jersey was an honour in itself, but being able to put on the rainbows was surreal. It was great to be able share the moment with the other Aussie girls. I felt very proud. I definitely took a lot of confidence from our TP gold as I felt it showed we were the strongest team there.

PW: What went through your mind in the IP after you crossed the line and looked up at the scoreboard?

AM: It didnít really click at first but when I came down off the track and gave Belinda a hug I realized I had done it.

PW: After the win in the IP you posted on Instagram "4.5 years ago I never would have imagined this was possible." What have the past four and a half years been like and what has been your biggest motivation to get here?

AM: 4.5 years ago was the first time I got on a track bike at a come and try day at the Adelaide Superdrome. I remember watching a girl ride into the net which stops the indoor soccer players kicking their ball onto the track. So that was where I set my first bike goal, to not crash into that net. The rest of those 4.5 years I set many little goals I achieved or am yet to accomplish. I got into SASI (South Australian Sports Institute) and from there I started to work towards making an Australian team. My biggest motivation was my dream to represent my country and also watching Nettie (Annette Edmondson) race. Nettie has helped me a lot being a friend and mentor when I have needed. Watching her race always inspires me.

PW: Overall you must be extremely pleased with how the five days went?

AM: It was an amazing experience and was great to be able to achieve all the goals I had set myself for Track. I thank the Korean Cycling Federation for hosting such a wonderful event. The Korean people we came in contact with were so friendly, organised, respectful, helpful and professional that the experience could not have been any better. I really wasnít sure how I would go on the track against girls from other countries especially the Europeans where cycling is held in such high regard. It was nice to meet some of them.

PW: The 333m track was a bit different to what most are used to. What was it like?

AM: Iím used to wooden 250m tracks so getting used to the longer concrete track took some time. We had to readjust the position where we swung in the TP. The good thing was that all the other teams were in the same boat. As the track is longer you donít get as much feedback from your coach, as the IP was 6 laps instead of 8 and the TP was 12 laps instead of 16.

PW: After doing Road Worlds last year and Track Worlds this year, how did the experiences differ?

AM: Road worlds felt bigger in the sense that we had much bigger crowds and the atmosphere was amazing, probably because the seniors were also racing. However I enjoyed the more social atmosphere at the track. Itís a lot easier to support your team mates when they are competing. Both were awesome experiences and I was lucky enough to have a great team and support crew with me at both events.

PW: You head off to Europe this week for preparation for road worlds. As the only member of the team who went last year do you feel this puts you in a bit of a leadership role?

AM: Last yearís experience definitely allows me to advise and help the other girls with what to expect and how to prepare for the intense environment they will be confronted with. The competitors and fans get very excited and speak many different languages and it can distract you at the start of the race if youíre not really focused. I am very excited to be able to put the skills I learnt last year to good use.

PW: Third in the time trial and eighth in the road race last year. Have you had a look at the courses do you think they suit you?

AM: Last year suited me really well as the time trial was very technical and the road race very hard with crazy hills. I was well prepared for that terrain. This year Iíve had a strong track focus but the time trial course looks pretty flat so I should be able to give it a good crack. The hills in the road race are also not as steep or long as last year so coming out of a track base I think I have a good opportunity.

PW: 2014 is your last year as a junior. What are you hoping for in the new few years?

AM: My dream is to compete at the Olympics. In the mean time Iíll be trying to step up into the senior ranks the best I can. I will continue to ride both track and road for a few years. There are a lot of wonderful Aussie girls in the seniors like Nettie, Amy Cure, Gracie Elvin and Tiffany Cromwell and many more that I look up to and hope to compete with and against soon, I canít wait.
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