Peloton Watch
  Macey Stewart Interview National Road Championships  
  July 10th 2014  
  Tasmanian Macey Stewart was one of the top riders at U15 and U17 level with Gold medals in each age category. A crash in mid 2012 nearly ended her career and could have been much worse. The past 18 months have seen her return to not just her former level but step up further. Four medals including a Gold at 2013 Track Nationals and this year five medals from five events, two of them Gold. Last weekend marked her biggest result on the road to date, National Champion in the Junior Road Race. Plus silver in the Criterium and Time Trial, to make 8 medals in 2014.

One of the bubbliest and determined people you will meet, the second half of 2014 could see Stewart’s career reach another level. A Rainbow jersey at the Junior Track World Championships in Korea next month and a potential spot in the Road World Championship squad are both on her radar.

Below she talks come back from injury, Track and Road National Championships and looks to what is next.

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

Macey Stewart: I first got introduced to cycling through my older brothers. Both my brothers used to cycle and while I was dragged around racing as an enthusiastic 8/9 year old, I gained a keen interest in jumping on a bike myself. I used all of my brother’s old gear and started in the beginners races at the Tasmanian Christmas carnivals.

PW: Two years ago (2012) you were involved in a near career ending crash. How hard was the process of getting back to where you are now?

MS: My crash in 2012 was a blessing in disguise in my eyes (probably not the best description)... Although it caused me to miss road nationals and my first chance of wearing the Aussie colours on my back (Track Oceania Games) I think it made me so much more motivated and when I was finally able to exercise again I was jumping out of my skin to get back on the bike and feel the pain! It also allowed my body to have a much needed rest (I think I grew about 5cm) freshening me up for one of my best overall track national performances to date, breaking the All Comers and Aus. Champs IP record, winning the Points Score and claiming silver medals in both the Scratch Race and the TP. After being such an active child, always on the go, not being able to get my heart rate up for four months did take its toll on me emotionally, but I think these sort of obstacles are imperative for building ones character and becoming an emotionally strong person!

PW: Just over six months later you took your first U19 National title in the Points Race. How important was that? Coming back and getting a big win so soon?

MS: Winning the Points Race was such a satisfying moment, I was still in disbelief of my performances in the Individual Pursuit the night before that my head was in the clouds, I just could not believe that I was back where I'd dreamed of being. To be honest I think the feeling I got when I crossed the line and saw the screen in the IP qualifying the night before was still to this day the best feeling I have ever felt. I didn't care about getting a medal or being on the podium, I just couldn't believe the time I had ridden and how I had achieved something I honestly didn't believe I was capable of, exceeding all my expectations. The feeling of knowing that after everything I had been through and how hard I had worked to try and reach the top again, I was back. My success at those nationals was extremely important.

PW: Track Nationals this year. You defended your Points Race victory and picked up a win at elite level in the TP how satisfying was that?

MS: To win back to back Points Race titles was an awesome feeling, but I think the senior TP win definitely took the cake! To share the satisfaction of winning with a group of girls I love, look up to and are close friends with and do Tassie proud on the national stage as a team was so much more rewarding!

PW: Five medals from five events across Track Nationals (including Omnium). You must have been pleased walking away with a medal from each event?

MS: It is always a satisfying feeling earning a medal for your state in any race, so to receive medals in all of my events was extra pleasing!

PW: Turning to Road Nationals. You are in the middle of preparation for Track Worlds what were you expecting?

MS: I must admit I am one to have quite high expectations of myself. Heading into road nationals my main focus was the Time Trail as TT training had sort of linked into my track training program. I was hoping to get 1st or 2nd in the TT so I could be considered for the Junior Road World Championships. I hadn't really thought about the road race or criterium beforehand, as I'm one to think on the spot and see how the race turns out rather than plan it. Knowing that I was racing girls who are as strong as Alex Manly and Anna Leeza Hull did have me worried and lacking a bit of confidence in the hills, but I'd hoped that if I protected myself enough I could stay with them over the climbs. I knew that after being beaten by such a substantial amount in the TT I had to pull out a pretty specky road race to stay in contention for Junior Road Worlds selection.

PW: To come away with two Silver and a Gold you must be happy?

MS: I am extremely happy with results over the weekend. To come away with three medals from three events has boosted my confidence for the upcoming world track camp.

PW: The Road Race is the big one, 5th last year but Gold this year. What does it mean to be the National Road Race Champion?

MS: Last years national road race was disappointing, especially after being in a break the whole race and feeling good, only to suffer severe leg cramps in the last 5 kms. Therefore, this year was really good to come away with the win and make up for that.

PW: Your crash in 2012 was on the same criterium circuit as was used in the National Criterium Championship this year. Were there any nerves or did you just try and put it out of your mind?

MS: To be honest, I hadn't thought about the crash for a while now, and even being back at the circuit didn't really bother me. I mean, I was a bit frightened going so fast into the corners but I was always a bit wary of that, even before my crash.

PW: The Junior Track World Championships are only a month away what are you hoping to achieve there?

MS: I have learnt in the past not to put to high of expectations on myself, as sometimes things just aren't meant to be. But I cant deny that heading into my last world track championships as an under 19, I am very eager to bring home some world stripes.

PW: As a second year U19 you are eligible to compete at the Road Worlds in Spain as well. Is that something you are hoping to be selected for?

MS: Yes, I would love the opportunity to represent Australia at both track and road World Championships this year. It is an honour to represent your country and I would like to do that at any opportunity. The training camp in Italy beforehand would make it even sweeter because I am a big fan of Pizza, Pasta and gelato! haha

PW: You have made no secret Rio 2016 is a big goal. The Australian team in recent years has been hard to break in to. After your results this year are you happy with the way you are progressing?

MS: Yes Rio 2016 is a big goal of mine and I think I am on the right path at the moment, but I do realize it will be a huge challenge to make the team at such a young age. I'm definitely going to give it a shot though!
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