Peloton Watch
  Ellesse Andrews targets individual and team pursuit in final year junior  
   April 30th 2017   
  Ellesse Andrews comes over the top of Jade Haines to win Under 19 points race at the 2017 Oceania Championships. Photo: Con Chronis  
  After winning a junior world title in the team sprint in 2016 New Zealand's Ellesse Andrews has switched her focus to the individual and team pursuits in 2017.

Strength across the sprint and endurance events as a junior is not uncommon but the all round ability Andrews has was on display at the Junior Track World Championships last year. Two days after the team sprint gold she posted one of the fastest under 19 2km individual pursuit times in history, on route to the bronze medal.

After taking some time off the break post World Championships 17-year-old Andrews returned to competition in December at the Oceania Championships where she stormed to gold medals in the team pursuit, points race and 500m time trial as well as silver medals in the omnium and scratch race.

In her final year as an under 19 Andrews added another national title to her collection in the 500m time trial at the New Zealand Championships. Before setting a new personal best of two minutes 22.469 seconds on route to a second gold in the individual pursuit. With Andrews now holding two of the five fastest times ever set.

August will see her again compete on the world stage at the UCI Junior Track World Championships in Montichiari, Italy where she is hoping to claim rainbow jerseys in the individual and team pursuits. Before that Andrews is embracing every opportunity she can, including riding on the road with the F.A.S.T Cycling Team in New Zealand run by former British professional cyclist Emma Trott.

Your father represented New Zealand on the track at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games is that how your interest in cycling started?

With both my parents having represented New Zealand in their cycling disciplines, my family have always been into cycling. When I was younger, our weekends and holidays would often include exploring new places on our bikes with family and friends. Cycling recreationally had always been a big part of my childhood, but it wasn't until jumping on the track in late 2013 before I really developed my passion.

Dad has always been my coach, and has always left how much cycling I wanted to take part in, up to me. I was never really pushed to do the sport, and I think it was this freedom just to enjoy it (without being hugely competitive) and dad's passion for cycling and helping me achieve my goals, that really set my love for Cycling.

Heading in to the 2016 Junior Track World Championships what were your goals?

I really was just going into the competition wanting to gain more race experience. Junior Worlds was the first competition I had competed in outside of New Zealand or Australia, it was so cool to travel to Switzerland and race at the UCI velodrome in Aigle. We didn't have any set goals, we just focused on nailing our parts of the team sprint as well as we could and getting our processes right. For the individual pursuit I just wanted to nail the lap times I thought I could do and ride to plan.

Started off strongly winning the team sprint on day one with Emma Cumming what did it mean to pull on the rainbow jersey as the world champion?

It was an extremely special moment for me. Pulling on the jersey, seeing our flag, and hearing the New Zealand national anthem was a really cool moment for both Emma and I. A very special memory, and a definite highlight of my cycling career so far!

Winning the world title in the team sprint gave you the set of World, Oceania and New Zealand titles in the event did that make it even more special?

Yes, especially as all of the titles were won with my team mate Emma Cumming! It's really awesome looking back to our first team sprint together, at the 2014 National champs, both of us only under 17. This was my first nationals, so looking at the video of us during this event, and comparing it to last year's worlds was really special. So cool to see how much we have achieved together.

Claimed a second medal winning bronze in the individual pursuit in 2:22.695 just three tenths of a second outside the World Record. Your time was faster than the gold medal winning time were you happy with your performance and the time?

Going into this competition, I had only dreamed of riding a time as fast as 2:22. In the qualifying ride I didn't get my pacing quite right for the first 2-3 laps, starting a bit slow. The 2:23 I rode in qualifying was solid but I knew there were things I could improve if I were to ride again, so I felt confident. Going into the bronze ride off, all I wanted to do was improve my morning time, I wasn't even focused on the record! In the end, I rode myself into the ground and was really happy with the result!

So close being three tenths off that record, but overall I couldn't have done anything to get back that time, so I was extremely happy with both my time and overall performance.

A world title and bronze medal at your first junior worlds to go with Oceania and New Zealand titles it was a strong first year under 19 for you? What did you find the biggest challenge?

Early 2016 I made the move from my hometown in Wanaka NZ, up to Cambridge. This allowed me to have easy access to the track and all of the coaching support. For me the biggest challenge was not knowing if I would be focusing on endurance or sprint. I spent a bit of time trying to do both – that was challenging! In the end the best decision for me was to focus more on sprint for 2016, which the coaches thought would help me in the long-term anyway.

Started the 2017 season at Oceania Championships winning gold in the team pursuit, 500m time trial and points race. Did you have much of a break after Junior Worlds? A confidence boosting result?

Achieving these results was a great start to my 2017 season, especially with our New Zealand National Championships coming up just two months after the event. I did have quite a big break after junior worlds, so yes, these results were a great confidence booster, and reassurance that I was just naturally continuing to develop and on track to have a successful nationals.

You were leading the omnium and looking set for a fourth gold before you came down in a crash in the closing laps of the points race. What happened? Must have been disappointing to be so close to another gold and lose it that way?

I was actually really pleased with winning silver in this event. I wasn't 100 percent sure how I would cope with the new format, especially as I prefer and have performed better in the individual timed events previously. All I remember is that the rider in front of me swung up so I followed but unfortunately another rider overlapping my wheel when I swung up, and crashed bringing me down with her. There were only four laps remaining when we crashed so I wasn't able to contest the last sprint. It was disappointing to be that close to the gold, but I was really just happy that I had raced well under the new format, and given it my all until the very end.

Claimed three gold and two silver from five under 19 events at the Oceania Championships great way to start the season?

Yeah it was cool to travel to this first big event of the season and collect a few medals in the events I competed in. Great reassurance and a good refresher before heading into more racing during the duration of the 2017 season.

There were a lot of close battles between yourself and Jade Haines with each of you taking a couple of wins a friendly rivalry between the two of you?

Jade is a really great rider, and I would say we are quite similar, in the sense that we are both more sprint based endurance riders. It's always great to have good, hard racing, and Jade is one of the many talented Aussie riders who bring it all to the table, every race!

Qualified fastest in the individual pursuit at Nationals in 2:25.793 did you have a feeling you were on for a good ride in the final? Did you have a specific time you were targeting?

Going into the final, I really wanted to lower the time I set in the qualifying round. The first few laps of my ride were a lot faster than I was scheduled for, but I just rolled with it and ended up feeling great spinning more. Putting out a few faster lap times at the beginning of my final ride ended up setting me up really well for the whole ride. All I had to do was hold the faster times as long as I could, and when I did begin dropping my lap times, just make sure it wasn't too bad.

Crossing the line to win gold and looking up at the scoreboard and seeing the time of 2:22.469 did you believe it?

My mental target for the final was a 2:24, which is actually what my schedule was for qualifying too. So, looking up to see the 2:22 was quite unbelievable!

Third fastest time in history and to do it in February at Nationals is the individual pursuit going to be a big focus for you? The time must give you a lot of confidence for the year ahead?

I've always really loved the individual pursuit, and I'm really keen to put a big focus on improving my times in it this year as well as contributing to the team pursuit. Last year my main focus was the team sprint, with a bit of added IP training, so I've never trained solely for this event. It will be exciting to see what the bigger endurance focus this year brings!

You have been combining sprint events (500m TT, keirin and team sprint) with endurance events is that something you plan to continue with or going to narrow your focus?

This year my focus is going to be on the individual and team pursuit, which is an event that I hope to continue on with in my career. I am still going to keep my options open for my career in the future, still keeping lots of speed and power work in my program.

What are your goals for 2017?

In 2017 I'm looking at increasing my endurance, and spending time getting more miles on the road. I'll be doing a lot more road racing with my new team F.A.S.T (run by Emma Trott), providing some great opportunities for me over the course of the year.

I have also been selected in the New Zealand team for the 2017 Track cycling Junior Worlds, so a lot of this year will be based around working on my training in preparation for this event! Overall, I'm just looking at taking every opportunity this year that's presented to me, and making the most out of the ones I already have! I am really looking forward to seeing what the year brings, and can't wait to continue to develop as a junior road and track cyclist!
 © 2016