Peloton Watch
  New focus for Emily Roper in 2015  
  January 9th 2015  
  One of Australia's top juniors in 2011 an 2012 Emily Roper is taking a new focus in 2015. The 2011 Junior World Team Pursuit Champion also finished fourth in the time trial and ninth in the road race. After spending the past two seasons riding with the Jayco-AIS women's program in Europe Roper is focused on studying this year.

As well as her Junior World title Roper has been the dominant under 23 rider at the Australian National Championships since leaving the junior ranks. Roper won the criterium and road race double in 2013 before repeating the performance in 2014 and also claiming silver in the time trial.

Below Roper talks about her best experiences to date, moving out of the junior ranks, her 2014 season, missing the 2015 National Championships and what the future holds.

PelotonWatch: How did you first come in to the sport?

Emily Roper: I first started cycling through family members who were cycling. I was testing out the bike through a few junior triathlons and it just proceeded from there. Eventually riding more and more through our local club who worked well developing juniors, then onto state teams and eventually one day onto national teams.

PW: You started your career on the track and won the Junior World Championship team pursuit in 2011. Looking back what does this mean to you now?

ER: At the time a Junior World Championship was huge, it is at that age. I remember at the start of that year not even considering track World Championships with my mind focused more towards the road. When I was selected for Worlds on the track and coming home a world champion it definitely boosted my confidence. Looking back now that was a boxed ticked in the right direction to become a better cyclist.

PW: In 2012 you finished 4th in time trial and 9th in the road race at Junior World Championships. Did these results give you confidence you could compete with the best on the road?

ER: I was happy with my results and it definitely gave me confidence, especially as you go from racing in Australia against small bunches to international bunches of 80 or more. In both events there was still that disappointment of being so close to the podium, missing it in the time trial by 5 seconds and coming down to a bunch sprint in the road race but again this was another stage of development to build characteristics to compete against the best.

PW: 2014 started strongly with gold in the u23 road race and criterium and silver in the time trial at National Championships. Was it important to start the year off on a strong note?

ER: Definitely, it is always nice to start the year on a good note and Nationals is always a race where most people are uncertain of what form they are in, being one of the first of the year. Coming away with two National titles to my name is a good feeling however being U23 womenís titles itís unfortunate that the national stripes canít be represented throughout the rest of the year.

PW: Going from the junior ranks competing against riders within two years of you directly to the senior ranks is often difficult. What has been the biggest challenge?

ER: The biggest challenge that I found is being patient and allowing yourself to develop. Coming from the junior ranks where you get regular results to racing the elite where finishing in the top 10 is rare, makes it hard to stay motivated because results are a great motivation tool. It would be nice to have a womenís under 23 level that would allow the jump from juniors to be minimised.

PW: You have spent the past two years with the Jayco-AIS National program racing in Europe. What was the experience like?

ER: The AIS national program was exceptional, it gave me the opportunity to experience international level racing and make the development from racing in Australia to overseas definitely more comfortable. It is nice when you travel to a foreign place for months at a time to have the support of Australians around you. It gives you the introduction to racing internationally for an intense short period rather than jumping in the deep end and spending a whole season overseas with an international team. The program gives that bridge for developing riders the taste of international racing; itís just a shame that the program had to be cut for 2015.

PW: What is the most important lesson you have learnt from riding in Europe and how does it compare to racing in Australia?

ER: The most important thing that I found whilst racing overseas is that it is important to keep a balance between your sporting, family, friends and other interests. When you are in Australia it is easy to be flexible which gives you the chance to set time for training and then have time for everything else, to keep that balance. Living overseas is very different and having a second interest definitely helps to turn your focus elsewhere when your not training/racing. The key is to enjoy what you are doing.

PW: How would you describe your 2014 season?

ER: Challenging would be the word to describe 2014 for me. It started of well with great results at the national championships. From then on I raced internationally at Qatar, came home for Oceaniaís and then back overseas for the first half of the season. The spring racing I found testing and it definitely pushed me right to my limits.

PW: Of the five under 23 events you have raced at the National Championships in the past two years you have four gold and one silver. What does this success mean to you?

ER: It is always nice to win and a nice reward for all the time, effort and commitment that goes into the sport.

PW: You have decided not to race the National Championships in 2015 to focus on completing your nursing degree. Was it a difficult decision to make as the defending champion in the road race and criterium?

ER: With Nationals this week there will definitely be that desire to be there competing as this is the first nationals I have missed since starting the sport in under 15, but I think racing with the form I have would have been harder than the choice not to go. The decision to minimise my load of training however was definitely a hard one and something that I spoke about with my coach Donna Rae-Szalinski. I made the decision to knuckle down on my studies whilst Iím still young and get my degree behind me.

PW: What do you plans for 2015 look like?

ER: At the moment I have just finished a year of my Nursing degree and plan to study full time in 2015, with only 2 more years of study to complete. I am making sure that I am enjoying what I am doing and keeping busy, which means getting out on the bike in spare time and also fitting in work commitments at the post office in-between.

PW: Biggest challenge you have had to overcome?

ER: The biggest challenge I have found is coming from the junior ranks where you place top 10 in the world to then competing with the best women in the world. Having the patience to develop whilst still maintaining motivation without receiving results in races is difficult, because we all know how much motivation comes after a win.
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