Peloton Watch
  Rikki Belder a star on the rise after Austral keirin win and World Cup selection  
  January 14th 2015  
  The name Rikki Belder may be unfamiliar for those outside of Australian track cycling. Belder is a star on the rise and is entering her fourth year in the senior ranks. How many 21 year olds can say they have ridden and won a team sprint national title with the most successful female track rider in history, Anna Meares? Belder can, in fact she now claims claim three national titles in the team sprint. The last two have been won with new Commonwealth Champion Stephanie Morton.

Belder’s biggest career success today however came just three weeks ago at the Austral Carnival. A fast finishing Belder held off a late charge by 10 time including back to back keirin World Champion in 2011 and 2012 Anna Meares. Not only was it her first major individual win but beating Anna Meares is something few in Australia can claim to have achieved. Especially at just 21! It is a result that she understandably describes as "great fun."

A regular medallist at both Australian and Oceania Championship level and the results have not gone unnoticed by Australian selectors. On the weekend Belder will line up in the Green and Gold colours of the Australian National team for the first time. Belder was selected in a young Australian team to compete at the final World Cup of the 2014/15 season in Cali Colombia.

Below one of the future stars of Australian sprinting talks how she came in to the sport, major career moment so far, beating Anna Meares in the keirin at the Austral carnival and what she is hoping to learn at the Cali World Cup.

PelotonWatch: How did you first come into the sport and how old were you?

Rikki Belder: We did fitness testing at school as part of Phys Ed, and the results were sent in to SASI. After a second round of testing SASI selected me for the TID [Talent Identification] cycling program. We started out on the track - I knew almost nothing about track cycling until then. I was 12 years old.

PW: Why track sprinting? What is it you like about it?

RB: It's as fast as you make it - that's not specific to track sprinting, but it's a huge part of the appeal; the fact that what you do, how you train and how hard you work is shown in your performance and development over time. Who else but a track sprinter gets to travel at speeds of over 70, 80km/h, sometimes behind a motorbike, but always under their own steam? For me there is no other feeling like having the force pull you into the bends and throw you into the straights from your own power and effort.

PW: You claimed a team sprint national title with Anna Meares in 2012. What was it like to ride and win a national gold with the most successful female track cyclist in the world?

RB: I found out that Anna would ride second wheel only a few days before Nationals that year - I was extremely excited! It was my first nationals in the senior ranks, and to have a team sprint partner of Anna's calibre was a privilege for me. I remember race day very well - Anna was an incredible role model; it really boosted my confidence talking things through with her before the races - she never diluted my importance as her team sprint partner for winning the title.

PW: 2014 has been a big year for you including claiming another team sprint national title with Stephanie Morton. Have you approached things differently this year or has it just been a natural progression?

RB: It was very cool to start off the year with a third consecutive win for SA in the team sprint. There have been a few changes in my program over 2014 that I think have aided or perhaps accelerated natural progression.

PW: Second in the sprint at the Austral Carnival beating out a number of other rising stars of Australian sprinting. How much confidence can you take away from the result?

RB: The sprint qualifying was also a PB for me, and showed some of the gains I've made in training - as did the racing - so confidence can be drawn from each element. I took a lot of experience away from racing Anna in the sprint final - I've never match-sprinted against her before. I think confidence, not just for me, should come from the fact that there are a number of rising stars of Australian sprinting.

PW: Another big result came at the Austral where you pipped Anna Meares on the line in the keirin. What did that win mean to you?

RB: That was great fun! When my name came up at the top of the scoreboard I was really happy that what I had thought were good decisions, having the gas to hold the others off down the front straight, and a well-judged throw had all paid off. I learnt a bit about myself that day - especially from the keirin final - and that is more valuable than the win.

PW: Selected for the final Track World Cup of the season in Cali. How did you feel when you were first told you had been selected for your first World Cup?

RB: I was buzzing when I was told I'd be going to Colombia! I was so relieved as well - I had been working towards a trial held before Christmas, to see if I was fast enough to be the team sprint starter, and it went really well. I'm thrilled for the opportunity to ride for Australia for the first time.

PW: What are you hoping to take away from the World Cup?

RB: I've never travelled further than New Zealand for racing, so the travel will be a learning curve for me. I'm looking to deal with everything that comes with being on the World circuit scene, and part of the national team, and I'm hoping to take away some good times.

PW: Looking slightly further ahead what are your main goals for 2015?

RB: As always - to keep improving as an athlete and to step up for every opportunity I can create or am presented with.

Rikki Belder posts a PB of 11.462secs in sprint qualifying at the Austral carnival.
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