Peloton Watch
  Emily Roper completes under 23 national title set with time trial win  
  January 27th 2016  
  Photo: Emily Roper PelotonWatch
  Emily Roper made a triumphant return to the Australian Road National Championships at the start of January to win the under 23 women's time trial. The win against the clock completed the set for Roper as the first women to claim under 23 national titles in the road race, time trial and criterium.

"I enjoyed it as much as you can enjoy a TT!," Roper said. "Based on my preparation I was very surprised to win, that and the fact I've won all three under 23 national titles made it pretty special."

2015 marked the fist time since she was an under 15 that Roper had missed a national championships having made the decision to focus on her nursing degree.

"I made the decision to have a break from cycling and concentrate on my nursing degree and feel that it has been a positive decision, both my career and cycling I feel have benefited from the break," explained Roper. "As well as making progress with my studies it has also helped me to appreciate and enjoy my cycling again."

"I am now currently completing my last year of university and will be a qualified nurse at the end of the year assuming that I pass all my exams."

Missing racing last year proved a challenge for Roper. "I am a competitive person so it was hard to watch my twitter feed and see all the racing that was happening."

The year wasn't completely without racing with Roper competing at several NRS rounds in the middle and second half of 2015. "At first I missed the adrenaline of racing but I wasn't ready fitness wise to race and be competitive."

Despite not racing and training full time as she had in the past Roper's talent shone through finishing seventh overall at Battle on the Border and ninth at the Tour of the King Valley with stage podiums at both races.

"As time passed and with a few more rides under my belt I was actually excited and keen to be back racing the second half of last year.

"Not only because of the competition but also to see all the friendly faces and people again that I have met through cycling. "

Making Roper's time trial national title even more remarkable was the fact she only made the decision to enter the day entries closed, nine days from the start. "To be honest I was encouraged at the last minute to race and was originally only going to enter the time trial as I hadn't had enough preparation for the road race.

"However seeing as I was going to be down there I thought I may as well have a crack at the road race too."

The last minute decision meant limited preparation not that you would have known it from her time trial ride. "My preparation was definitely not ideal as I have only just been enjoying riding socially with a few of the guys bunches on the Gold Coast.

"Once I had entered I did a week of cramming any kilometres in that I could get and fortunately it came together on time trial day. The guys that encouraged me must have believed in me more than I did myself."

Despite being a two time winner of the criterium Roper elected to sit out the event and focus on the race against the clock. "I was originally only going down to do the time trial.

"I wasn't sure my fitness was good enough to back up the morning after the crit and the time trial was my focus because I hadn't won it before," Roper said of the decision to miss the criterium.


"I didn't have any expectations but in the back of my mind I wanted to podium," Roper added on her goals heading in to the time trial having had a year away from top competition. "I didn't put a lot of pressure on getting a result because my preparation was far from ideal."

With the course the same as 2015 many riders had the advantage of having ridden the course a year ago but for Roper it was sight unseen heading in. "At first I thought this course is hilly so I tried not to go out too hard.

"I thought the course would favour a climber but it turned out to be a strongman's course. I was extremely satisfied with how I rode considering the preparation and the end result.

"It does show some depth in the rising talent," commented Roper on the podium being separated by four seconds. "Queensland had a great result with the top four under girls being Queenslanders."

Roper had been on the top step of the podium four times in the past. Twice in each the road race and criterium, but 2015 was the first year national champions jerseys were awarded to under 23 women with the category not recognised by the UCI.

"It was good to get recognition for our hard work, although it is a shame there is no under 23 races I can wear my national stripes," said Roper. "Through receiving a jersey on the podium does make the moment that little bit more special."

The time trial gold in her final year in the under 23 category gave Roper the rare set of under 23 national titles in the road race, time trial and criterium. "It feels really go to have won all three," added Roper. "I'm excited to move on to elite knowing I've ticked those boxes and see what the future holds."

After success in the time trial Roper turned her attention to the road race but the limited preparation took its toll. "I definitely didn't have enough kilometres in my legs but to be."

Now in the final year of her degree Roper will again focus on study in 2016 but hopes to compete when she can.

"I'm enjoying my riding and I'll race when possible between nursing placements. It's hard to commit to any races at this stages because I don't know when my placement will arise so I'll take each race as it comes."

Any decision on a full time return to racing will come after Roper completes her degree. "I really love riding bikes and when I finish Uni I'll see what opportunities arise within cycling or nursing."
 © 2016