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  Shannon Malseed ready to head back to Europe after claiming Oceania title  
 
  March 10th 2016  
   
  Shannon Malseed salutes as she crosses the line at the 2016 Oceania Championships © Con Chronis  
     
  Shannon Malseed is ready to race in Europe for the second time after claiming the Oceania road race title in Bendigo last weekend.

After taking gold in the under 23 criterium and road race in 2015, Malseed has been on a course that has seen her career prosper in the 14 months since.

Malseed participated in the women's selection camp in 2015 to be part of the Australian Women's Development Team. Making it to the final eight but missing the final four selected. While disappointed Malseed left knowing she was content with the progress she had made.

A combination of factors including a stage win at the Mersey Valley Tour gave Malseed a ticket to Europe to race Internationale Thuringen Rundfahrt, La Route de France, Trophee d'Or Feminin and Tour Cycliste de l'Ardèche. An experience she knows will prove vital as her career continues.

Following a busy Australian summer with top 20 finishes in the elite time trial and road races at the Australian Championships and 14th overall at the Santos Women's Tour it was announced Malseed would return to Europe with the women's development team.

While the Oceania Championships had not been a big goal for Malseed, her preparation ahead of flying to Europe later this month left her in great condition. Having been part of the early break Malseed found herself with Jessica Mundy and Lisen Hockings heading towards the finish. With Malseed using her experience and tactics to pounce at the right moment for victory.

From here Malseed has one objective as she heads to Europe - to make a name for herself. Not just on the results sheet but how she conducts herself on and off the bike.

Attended the gruelling selection camp last year how did you find it?

Last year's selection camp was a memorable and enjoyable experience for me. It was character building, challenging and I also met some life-long friends. Cycling isn't easy, so the tough challenges we faced at the selection camp were a good representation of what it takes to become successful in the sport. Having said that, some people thrive in situations like the selection camp, others show their strength in other ways, which is why I think the camp, is a controversial subject.

Initially told you had not been selected because you said you wanted to go as a domestique how did it feel to miss selection?

There were many strong and talented women who attended the camp in 2015, and I didn't expect to make the final 8, let alone the final 4 to go to Europe (5 including the Amy Gillet Scholarship holder). In the last meeting I had with Marv [Martin Barras] and Donna [Rae-Szalinski], I was told I didn't make the team, I completely understood. I was amongst some tough competition, I felt sad, but also content with my performance at the camp and optimistic that I was still heading in the right direction.

I received some positive feedback, but I hadn't quite convinced the selection panel that I was good enough yet...

You were then given the opportunity to go and race with the team what were you expecting?

A few weeks later I won a stage win at the NRS Mersey Valley tour, not long after I got the call up from Marv to tell me I was on the team. He was impressed with my form, and I was over the moon to receive that call!

Luckily for me, the Amy Gillet Scholarship went to Kimberley Wells, who was already a part of the team, this meant there was a spot to fill and I was next in line.

Raced Internationale Thuringen Rundfahrt, La Route de France, Trophee d'Or Feminin and Tour Cycliste de l'Ardèche what was the experience like and what did you learn?

The tours we did were amazing. I learnt so much in such a small period of time. I learnt how to ride cobbles in the very first stage of the very first tour, and in the same stage I learnt that heat stress is a very real thing and it hits you like a bus! I went from about 5 degrees in Ballarat, Victoria to 35-40 degrees in Germany... and it was not pleasant. I learnt that from country to country in Europe, the people and places change dramatically and you have to embrace it and adapt quickly. The racing is harder in every possible way - tactically, technically, with more challenging courses, very strong riders with great bunch skills (some not so great: learn to dodge), and hundreds of passionate spectators at almost every race.

Did having the opportunity to race in Europe change your willingness to just be a worker and give you the fire in your belly for personal opportunities?

I will always be someone who is a team player. Cycling is a team sport, and I don't believe you can win races without team support. Sure, you may win an odd few, but to really be a champion, you need an amazing team behind you, which requires dedicated, strong teammates.

I do however have personal goals to keep climbing the ladder to the top of professional women's cycling. Being a domestique for a team doesn't mean you will never have the opportunity to win races, you just have to recognize when the opportunity presents and take it in your stride, make the switch from worker to winner on that particular day, and you have every chance to win. I believe that everyone who lines up at the start of a race has a chance to win.

After a busy block of racing through January and then Qatar in early February what was your preparation like for the Oceania Championships?

Oceanias was not particularly a race that I had targeted. There was no pressure and no expectation leading into the race, which turned out to be a blessing. I had good legs on the day because I have been training hard for the European classics that will start for me in a few weeks!

You were in the initial break of 11 in the road race and then part of the final three how did the race go for you?

The race for me was just one of those races where everything works, and at the end, you don't even believe what has happened because you've tried the same thing a million times in other situations, but on this day it all just worked.

In the initial break, Holden were the only ones with two riders, so from the start, we were already ahead. Then over the top of the climb we still had the numbers after Louisa [Lobigs] dropped the whole bunch except for Rowney and I.

We attacked Rowney a few times (but Lou was cramping bad), so there was not much cohesiveness in that small bunch. After being caught by the hitters, Lou attacked again (despite the cramps), then I countered just as we were being caught by another bunch containing our teammate Miranda [Griffiths]. This was with about 15km to go.
Three riders formed a good working group and rode it to the finish. I was confident that I would win a sprint out of the three.

Heading in to the finish with Jess Mundy and Lisen Hockings what was going through your mind on how to win?

I was aware that we were being mowed down by Kat Garfoot, with the motorbike giving time gaps making us all a bit nervous that she was closing in on us (I kinda wished the moto would go away). One of the riders asked "do we wait for her?" I just remember yelling "DEFINITELY NOT!". We pulled good turns and worked well. I looked over my shoulder every time I went to the back and with 3km to go I could see that we were not getting caught. It felt surreal being in that situation. I have never been in such an awesome situation like that before, where I knew I could win, but I just had to keep calm and think straight, and don't do anything stupid.

My thoughts were with 3km to go "you've got this... Just keep an eye on Mundy"
2.5 to go "keep them rolling through, keep encouraging them"
2 to go "Lisen will lead out, force Mundy to make the jump"
1.5 to go "it's a long straight to the finish, don't go early"
1 to go "you can stop rolling now and let it play out"
Mundy and I wouldn't roll so out of frustration Lisen started to sprint... 500 to go.... "Wait."
350 - 400 to go and Mundy opened up "way too early, I've got this"
I waited for what felt like an eternity, took a few deep breaths, then opened up and felt like ten men. What an awesome day.

What does it mean to be the Oceania Champion in the road race?

It's funny, a lot of people have asked me… "How does it feel to be Oceania Champion?" and I don't actually "feel" any different. I think back to Saturday and get sweaty palms when I go over the race in my head, but I'm still just same old Shan. To be honest, the best feeling wasn't winning the Oceania title, but it was just the race itself, how my team came together and pulled off such a cool tactical race, almost like we were reading each other's mind. Winning the title is an awesome feeling for sure, but the feeling of a team mate having so much faith in you, perhaps more than you have in yourself, was what got me over the line in first place that day.

What does it mean to be heading back to Europe for a second time?

I can't wait to race with the Aussie team again in Europe, it is a priceless experience and I'm so excited to head over again and race with a slightly different team this time, and some hard core races, with some colder weather. It will be another mind blowing experience, I'm sure.

How much of a benefit do you think the experience from last year will be?

This year I kind of know what to expect, I know that it will be harder than I can imagine. The classics are renowned for being brutal, so I'm excited for that and also nervous. Racing in Qatar taught me that to hold my own in a bunch, I need to be a bit more ruthless and not-so-Mrs-nice-guy, or in other words, stop letting people walk all over me, and get my "b***h" on.

What are your goals for your block of racing in Europe? At the end what would you consider a success?

I hope to make more of a name for myself this time around, and get some teams to notice me. This can happen in so many different ways - winning races obviously puts riders in the spotlight, being in breaks, introducing yourself is a good option too.
We are fortunate enough to have some professional riders step in as they did last year, which is an awesome opportunity to learn from experienced women who know what it takes to be a pro.
 
 
       
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