Peloton Watch
  Melissa Hoskins back on track after illness as she eyes Olympic Gold in Rio  
  April 21st 2016  
  Melissa Hoskins after claiming points race title at 2015 Australian Championships. PelotonWatch
  The past six months have not gone as planned for 2015 team pursuit world champion and reigning world record holder Melissa Hoskins. Certainly not what she had hoped for heading in to an Olympic year.

A nasty bout of pneumonia ahead of the second round of the 2015/16 UCI Track World Cup Series in Cambridge, New Zealand, kept her from competing in her only chance to show off her rainbow stripes. With her case of pneumonia more serious than first thought Hoskins was ruled out of the Australian Championships and then the World Championships, as she missed the opportunity to defend her world title.

After spending the past two months in Europe with partner Rohan Dennis, Hoskins returned to Adelaide, the home of Cycling Australia's High Performance Unit for the first camp with Gary Sutton and her women's track endurance teammates. With a challenging six months behind her Hoskins is as determined as ever to turn a fourth place finish four years in London in to Olympic gold later this year in Rio.

You came down with pneumonia just ahead of the World Cup in Cambridge last December and had to withdraw from racing. Upon return to Australia turned out to be more serious than first thought?

Yes of course when I found out I had pneumonia when I was in New Zealand, it was a shock but at the same time I knew something wasn't right and it was a bit more then just a cold or flu.

Were then ruled out of the World Championships how disappointing was it not to be able to defend your team pursuit title?

At the time I was that sick that I realised there was no way that racing was going to be an option. Not being able to race in your world champions stripes is not easy. I tried to look at the bigger picture being Rio. No one can take away what myself and the girls did in Paris in 2015. We still have the WR and the happy memories!

What was it like sitting at home watching the World Championships and what did you think of the racing?

To be honest I didn't watch much. My coping mechanism was to stay busy. I went shopping and got training. I was in Spain at the time. I thought about the racing a lot. It's in the blood.

In the past the women's TP has often come down to Australian and Great Britain but the US are now world champions, Canada won two World Cups last season and New Zealand are also improving. Do you feel the level has stepped up across the world?

You would be silly to think it hasn't. The results are telling us exactly that and maybe that's what we need to get us really moving again. In 2012 we went into London maybe too confident after our silver at the Worlds earlier in that year and looking back I feel like that could have contributed to our result. At the end of the day we are the only ones who can turn the pedals. We are the only ones who can do the ride that's required to win. I guess we just have to hope that our best is better then everyone else on the day.

Spent past two months in Europe were you able to get some good training in?

Finally, I'm pretty pleased to say I got a good block in. I mean it wasn't perfect, struck down with a couple of stomach bugs but that's just a result of my body still trying to recovery from the acute antibiotics I received before, during and after my hospital visit with pneumonia. Other then that the change of environment was exactly what I needed to recharge the batteries before coming back into camp.

Back in Adelaide now for training camp looking forward to getting back on the track?

To be honest I was more excited about seeing my team. I've been away and separated from them for longer then I had wanted or intended so just being back and feeling apart of the team again is amazing. I'm sure there will be plenty of quality track time to come, that I'm sure of.

Melissa Hoskins focused on Rio Olympic gold. PelotonWatch

Haven't competed on the track in over a year and will be nearly 18 months by Rio how much of an impact do you think this will have?

At first I thought it was going to be a massive deal. I was panicking about it to be honest. It's not the way you want to go into one of the biggest competitions of your life but its an uncontrollable thing, I've been riding the track forever 10 years and riding with some of these girls for over five, you don't lose it. You don't forget it. You just have to believe in everything you have done to that point. Believe in the people who are on the track with you and on the sidelines. Those things are in our control. That's all you can worry about.

Just missed out on a medal finishing fourth in London four years ago has that disappointment motivated you the last four years to go to Rio?

Like you wouldn't believe. It's driven me up until this point in time and it will keep driving me for the next three and a half months. It was the most disappointing moment in my cycling career and if this happens to be my last Olympic campaign I want to leave it on a high. Hopefully that high is the top step of the podium.

It has been a challenging six months for you what has been the most difficult part? Goal of claiming Rio helped you deal with the setbacks?

The hardest part is knowing how good things can be (Paris Worlds 2015), how fast the team and myself can ride and not being able to do that. It's also the same things that have kept me going. Wanting to be back there. Being back there at Rio is what's driving me. It gets me out of bed on those rainy days. Call it clich but it does.

Do you think going through the selection process and the Olympic experience in 2012 will benefit you this time?

It's a benefit to me and the coaching staff that were around in 2012. We saw what worked and what didn't. I'm also older, like to think more mature and knowing what's behind the next door after already being there is comforting. I just want to be able to open that next door.

World Champion in 2015 and set the world record in the process what did it mean to finally claim gold after four years trying?

We didn't even know we had broken the world record. We just knew we had one so those reactions were purely based off just winning. When we had the opportunity to realise just how much we had raised the bar and smashed the record, I don't know about the other girls but I felt untouchable. I was on top of the world with some of the greatest women I have been able to spend time with and my coach. Seeing his face when we came around after the finish, it gives me goose bumps.

Melissa Hoskins - Elite and Junior Team Pursuit World Champion PelotonWatch

You are one of only two women to have held both the junior and elite world record in the team pursuit. What does that mean to you?

I hadn't really thought about it. I guess I can joke and say if you want to break the world record you need me in your team?! But seriously I didn't even know that but its pretty cool. These are all the little things that are written in the history books and looking back on them it makes me proud. I'm proud that I have continued to stick with the journey for a little while longer at least. Hopefully to write a few more things in the history books yet.

You have been a junior world champion and elite world champion disappointing to have never lined up and raced in rainbows?

Of course, but obviously it wasn't meant to be. The positive I can take from it is all my rainbow jersey, kits and apparel are nice and shiny and new.
 © 2016