Peloton Watch
  Ashlee Ankudinoff Interview  
  March 10th 2014  
  After taking the Individual and Team Pursuit double at the Junior World Championships in 2008 big things were expected from Ashlee Ankudinoff. It didn't take long before the results started to come at the Elite level. In her first senior Oceania Championships Ankudinoff took Gold in both the Points Race and Team Pursuit at the end of 2008. 2010 would mark another step forward when she teamed up with Sarah Kent and Josie Tomic to secure Australia's only Team Pursuit World title having just a month earlier taken victory in the National Omnium Championship.

Continued success at Oceania's followed with Gold in the Omnium and Scratch in 2011 and her second National Omnium title. With a highly competitive group fighting for selection in the Australian Olympic team Ankudinoff missed selection for the final team. Putting disappointment aside Ankudinoff nearly bested Olympic Omnium Champion in the 2nd round of the World Cup in Glasgow in November only missing out on Gold on countback. Back on home soil Ankudinoff finished the year strongly with Gold in the Scratch, Individual Pursuit and Points Race at the Oceania Championships.

Having made the team for the 2013 World Championships in Belarus Ankudinoff helped Australia to their second Silver medal in a row in the Tea Pursuit. With Ankudinoff again finding success on the track there was big hopes for the 2013 road season. However illness and an associated lack of form meant the rest of the year didn't go as hoped. Below Ankudinoff talks Track Worlds, Bendigo Madison, a disappointing 2013 and her goals for 2014.

PelotonWatch: You won the TP World Championship in 2010 and that remains the only year Great Britain hasn't won. Looking back what does this mean to you?

Ashlee Ankudinoff: It was a very special moment for me, as you said we have not been on the top step for 4 years now but that's not to say we are not hungry to get back on that top step. Great Britain has obviously stepped up and we now need to do that as well. We certainly have what it takes and we are all looking forward to the next 2 years heading towards Rio. It would be great to get some rainbows before the next Olympics and share the moment that I experienced in 2010 with the girls that are in the team now.

PW: How disappointing was it not being selected to ride the TP at Worlds?

AA: It was certainly disappointing to completely miss out on a ride in the team pursuit. My body didn't travel well from the 50+ odd hours sitting around airports and cramped up in a plane which lead to me not performing well throughout training sessions leading into the world championships. Yes everyone was in the same boat and the other 4 girls were training well and it was just an unfortunate situation for me that I just had to deal with.

PW: The change to 4 riders over 4km was introduced less than 12 months ago how long did it take to adjust to the new format?

AA: I really like the different format. We get that extra bit of rest now and still do 4 turns each. It didn't take very long until we got the hang of our swings after a little bit of adjustment with that extra person on the back. It's actually really cool swinging in a 4 man team pursuit, we are able to take a bit more height and almost "float" to get back onto the wheel with ease. With the race now being 4km, there is a lot more emphasis on controlling that first 1km. In previous years we are always the quickest to the 2km point and usually fade a little bit. But with it being that touch longer it is essential to look after ourselves in those first 4-6laps so we have some petrol left in the tank to really bring it home on our last turn- last km. that's where the bike race is won in those last few laps. As Great Britain showed us this year at the recent World Champs, they were down for the whole race until the last 3-4laps and brought it home to take the gold.

PW: You rode the Scratch Race at Worlds how did the open velodrome and the wind impact the race and tactics?

AA: It was actually a very nice velodrome to ride on in the scratch race. My race gear changed a little bit and I went to an easier gear compared to an indoor track. I had to make sure that I looked after myself early on and not find myself at the front when there was a head wind so I was able to be right up there in the finish. Also maintaining good position the whole time so that when an attack went I was hovering around the top 10 and it would be just be that bit easier to not go into the red zone too much.

PW: There was a lot of criticism of the velodrome. Would you like to see World Championships only held at indoor velodromes going forward?

AA: Prior to the championships there was a lot of criticism about this open side velodrome. The weather was very average in the lead up and the velodrome was leaking and the infrastructure wasn't perfect. Which did cause some setbacks to some of the countries allocated training times. Thankfully there was no rain throughout the championships and everything ran fairly smoothly. Then there was also the wind factor. In the 500m and 1km events there was definitely a disadvantage starting in a headwind compared to those starting with a tailwind. So they had to adjust and race individually instead of two up. In future yes maybe it would be more ideal if the world championships were held in an indoor velodrome.

PW: You came in to the Bendigo Madison as defending Champion, teamed up with Amy Cure and finished 2nd were you happy with your ride?

AA: Amy and I certainly gave it our all but we were just beaten by better bike riders on the night. We were always going to be fighting hard as we had just hopped off a plane a couple of days ago from Colombia and we both had hardly touched our bikes til the morning of the Madison. Nonetheless we had loads of fun and to come second to Bella King and Jess Mundy we are still happy.

PW: There was a strong field for the Women’s Madison and with there now being a National Championship would you like to see more for women during the year?

AA: It certainly was a strong field but it would be awesome to see more women support this great event likewise with the national Madison. I know there are a lot more women out there that I hope come and race next year. Now that we are getting support from the organisers to put on a women's Madison it would be in our best interest to start supporting these Madison events so that we lift the profile for women's cycling here in Australia.

PW: You have had a difficult season how hard has it been on you and how have you maintained your motivation?

AA: It certainly has been a difficult season for me, definitely not one of my best. A bit of sickness and lack of form did not help me. But this is all apart of being an elite athlete I guess. You have some highs and some lows. Sometimes more lows than highs. I have had a few kicks in the guts over recent years but it certainly has knocked me down. I love riding my bike and as long as I am continuing to enjoy it I won't be hanging it up. One thing that certainly keeps me motivated is standing on that podium at a world level. That emotion you feel when you're up on that podium is pretty special and certainly one that I want to keep experiencing. Also being apart of a team that is successful and having great teammates around me really motivates me to keep going through the tough times.

PW: You turn your attention now to the road with Jayco-AIS what are your goals for this year?

AA: It is definitely a quick turn around for me from track to road as I head to Europe with the road girls next Sunday. Not much down time for me but I am certainly looking forward to having a bit of fun on the road with the road girls. I had a lot of fun last year and was mainly the "domestique" for the team. This year I hope to do the same, continue to play a domestique roll and hopefully am fitter this year so I can get over those hills towards the front end of the bunch. Something I couldn't do last year.

PW: What else have you got planned for 2014?

After my stint in Europe with the AIS team I will return home, have a little bit off the bike and then rebuild towards the 2015 track season making sure it is better than this years!

PW: At the end of 2014 what would you like to have achieved on the bike?

AA: At the end of the year I would like to have had a really good season over in Europe on the road. Playing that domestique roll and possibly gaining a podium.. Or two..

On the track, I will be aiming to be in tip top form heading into the "business" end of my track season in the hope to gain selection for Track World Championships.

You can follow Ash on twitter @ash_lee666
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