Peloton Watch
  Nina Wollaston makes successful World Cup debut in Hong Kong as she continues development  
  January 28th 2016  
  Nina Wollaston a former medallist at the UCI Junior Track World Championships made her elite debut for New Zealand at the final round of the 2015/16 Track World Cup series in Hong Kong earlier this month.

As a junior Wollaston claimed New Zealand titles in the sprint in 2013 and points race in 2014. Before going on to claim bronze in the team pursuit at the Junior World Championships in 2014.

The opening day of the World Cup saw Wollaston line up in the scratch race in a field that included two of the sports top endurance riders Laura Trott and Jolien D'hoore. Despite getting caught out in the closing laps and losing the wheel of Trott the experience is one Wollaston knows will prove crucial for her development.

Wollaston then helped a young New Zealand squad in to the ride off for 5-6th in the team pursuit with a time of 4mins 31.432secs. Despite illness in the team Wollaston, Bryony Botha, Michaela Drummond and Philippa Sutton improved their time in the final to 4mins 30.403secs to place fifth.

Following a successful World Cup debut Wollaston now turns her attention to the New Zealand Track National Championships 10-13 February in Cambridge. With a full year of elite racing in her legs Wollaston hopes to further improve her personal best in the individual pursuit of 3mins 46.480secs set at the Waikato Bay of Plenty Track Championships in December.

What did it mean to be selected for your first World Cup?

It was a real privilege for me, not only because I was going to be racing against a world class field, but also to have the chance to travel overseas and experience a different culture and environment. The selection to this world cup was a goal I set for myself at the beginning of this season. Missing out on the Cali World Cup gave me extra motivation so it was a very proud moment.

What was your preparation like?

Tough is the best word I can think of to describe the training. In the first week of January we had a track camp where we did a lot of team pursuit training and getting used to riding together as a team and dialling in our skills. The climate in Hong Kong was surprisingly very similar to New Zealand so adapting to the environment over there was easier than expected.

Didn't ride team pursuit qualifying on the opening day but instead lined up in the scratch race finishing 15th. First bunch race at this level how did you find it and happy with how you raced? Big step up from juniors?

The elite scratch race was a whole different kettle of fish to the junior ranks that's for sure, and getting the chance to ride it provided some invaluable learning experiences. I found myself in a surprisingly good position, on none other than Laura Trott's wheel coming into the last three laps. Unfortunately I was caught under her wheel as the bunch kicked and was forced down before I could move forward (wont do that next time). I was happy to come away with the positive learning and am rearing for the next one so I can implement some new tactics.

Came in for round two of the team pursuit and helped earn a spot in the ride off for 5-6th happy with how you and the team rode?

This ride was one of the best TP rides I have ever had! I felt very relaxed on the start line (which is very rare for me!) and just treated it like one of our efforts in training doing my job pulling my turns. To be able to make it to the 5-6th ride off was awesome because we were racing against some seriously talented athletes.

Team finished fifth in 4:30.403 over a second faster than round one happy with the time and your ride in the final?

It was challenging as we were down to three riders just after the halfway point, which meant the team, and I had to do a lot more work than expected, but that was a good thing at the same time. After finishing this race I realised new limits to how far I could push my body and mind, I could barely get off my bike at the end! But yes we were happy with the turnout and finishing fifth was something to be proud of.

What is the most important thing you learnt from your first World Cup?

I learned that not everything goes to plan and you have to understand what you can control and what you can't, such as your own health and nutrition compared to things like how other teams will go.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

One of the biggest challenges was having to step up when one of our riders was sick for the race. The race plan had to change accordingly but I think we coped well considering the circumstances. It was a test of our character to pull together as a team and post a great time even though it wasn't smooth sailing!

Overall how did you find the experience and what did you most enjoy?

Unbelievable! It was so enjoyable and to come away with all the learning and knowledge was priceless. The racing was intense and like nothing I'd ever been part of before. Hong Kong is an amazing place, somewhere that I would love to experience again and explore further.

How important for you development was the opportunity to ride a World Cup at this point in your career?

Incredibly important, to be given this chance at such an early stage in my career is key for my progression and development. Not only the racing but also being part of a team, learning how everyone ticks, working together to become the best, working cooperatively to achieve our goals, its all learning that I thrive off and become a smarter athlete from.

Has riding a World Cup provided you more motivation and put you a step closer to your goals of competing at the World Championships and Olympic Games?

I have never struggled to find motivation; however, the thrill of riding at an event like this is something that I'm constantly striving for and I can't wait for the next opportunity, wherever in the world it may be. Riding this world cup has definitely helped me move closer to achieving my goals and has opened my eyes to realising my dream of one day riding at the Olympics and World Championships. Being able to go through the systems and processes at such a cutthroat competition was just what I needed to push my development. Learning how to deal with the pressure that is presented to me is something that you can only learn by getting amongst it, so that's what I did.

Next up is the New Zealand National Championships in February what are your goals there?

My main goal is to cut a chunk off my current personal best in the individual pursuit. I can't wait to race at nationals and to be more confident in the elite ranks especially compared to last year.
 © 2016