Peloton Watch
  Ashlee Ankudinoff ready to bounce back after strong end to 2014  
  January 25th 2015  
  Former World Team Pursuit Champion and a reigning Australian and Oceania Champion Ashlee Ankudinoff is ready to put a difficult 2014 behind her. A year that saw illness hurt her chances and force her to withdraw from a number of key targets left Ankudinoff on the back foot.

After reassessing and taking a step back Ankudinoff is back on the path that saw her part of the team that has claimed the only team pursuit world title not won by Great Britain in 2010. The final few months of 2014 have been a success with the Oceania scratch race title despite being sick, silver in the team pursuit at the London Track World Cup and regaining her national omnium title.

2015 sees Ankudinoff targeting results in both the individual pursuit and points race at the National Championships. With the real goal following later in February, a return to the team pursuit squad for the World Championships.

PelotonWatch: Heading in to the Oceania Championships you had good form and fitness what were you hoping for?

Ashlee Ankudinoff: After having a good couple of months under my belt training back home in Sydney I was hoping to get my track season off to a good start. Wanting to finish on the podium in each of my races.

PW: You came out flying to take the scratch race on the opening day, what did the win mean to you?

AA: It was tough to take that win as I had been sick in the lead up to this day and I knew to beat a few of the quicker girls in the bunch I had to be prepared for attacks. I made sure it came down to a bunch finish and made the sprint as short as possible which enabled me to sprint to victory. It was a good win for me knowing I was ill and was still capable both physically and mentally to achieve that Oceania win.

PW: Things took a turn though and you came down with illness. Mentally how did this impact you?

AA: It was a bit of a kick in the guts for me to become sick "again". For the last few years I have also had good form leading into important races but have been let down with my sickness. I had the rest of Oceania Championships off to recover and then was onto my next goal, that being London World Cup.

PW: At the London World Cup you took a step closer towards GB in the team pursuit. Do you feel you are making progress on reducing the gap to them?

AA: We are certainly reducing the gap and it's exciting. Our training has been harder than ever and it was a good confidence booster for us. I know we left London happy with the result but wanting to close that gap even more to GB.

PW: You were part of all three rounds what do you think of the change in format?

AA: It was very challenging having three 4km team pursuits in one day, we went to London prepared though and coped with it well. It was tough but it was tough for everyone we just knew that all our hard work we had been doing back in Adelaide had prepared us well for this new format.

PW: You are the only active rider not from GB to have ever won the team pursuit rainbow jersey. Does this give you extra motivation to try and reclaim it?

AA: It was a very special moment standing on that top step with the rainbow jersey with 2 of my teammates it certainly does motivate me more than ever to become World Champion again. Great Britain have been very dominant for the last few years now but I know that the girls in the squad are determined to get those exclusive rainbows very soon.

PW: You had an up and down year. What was the most difficult part and do you feel it has been character building?

AA: The most difficult part was actually getting that motivation back every time I had hit that hurdle. But I had a lot of support from family, friends, coaches and NSWIS staff in Sydney. Yes it was a character building 12 months and I'm learning more about myself and my capabilities.

PW: You reclaimed your omnium national title in December bringing your tally to three and drawing even with Nettie Edmondson. Were you happy with your performance?

AA: I was ecstatic to win another omnium national title. It was great to come home from London a week earlier battle jet lag and hold onto some form. I was pleased with how consistent I was, not necessarily winning events but being consistent and I feel that is what won it for me.

PW: Track Nationals are coming up next week what has your preparation been like and what are you hoping to achieve?

AA: I would say my preparation for nationals has been the best for many years. I have had a good solid block of training since Christmas in Adelaide so I am looking forward to seeing how my form will be. I am aiming for a podium in both the points race and individual pursuit. A PB in the IP would be very nice as well.

PW: You missed out on riding the team pursuit at the World Championships last year is getting back in to the squad a big goal for this year?

AA: It's been the biggest goal, all my focus on the track has been towards the Team Pursuit. I'm hoping all the hard work I have done since last 12 months at least and will get me to the World Championships in Paris and be one of the 4 selected teams pursuit riders.

Ashlee Ankudinoff claims a third omnium national title.
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