Peloton Watch
  Michaela Drummond ready for first taste of European racing on the road  
  June 21st 2018  
  Michaela Drummond with Racquel Sheath after winning the Madison at the Santiago Track World Cup. Photo: Guy Swarbrick  
  New Zealand rising star Michaela Drummond is ready for her first taste of European racing on the road following a busy year that has seen the 20-year-old go from strength to strength in her second year in the elite ranks.

A year ago, Drummond ended her road season in the United States early to focus on the track and selection for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Early track season success of the Oceania team pursuit title and three World Cup medals including gold in the Madison in Chile, saw Drummond named as part of a powerful New Zealand Team for the 2018 World Championships as well as her goal of representing New Zealand at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

The last 12 months were not without setbacks including an accident while training on New Year's Day leaving Drummond with a concussion. Three weeks off the bike saw her miss the National Championships and the opportunity to try and improve on under 23 silver medal from 2017 and interrupting her preparation for Worlds.

While achieving her goal of representing New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games, they were not without disappointment for the 20-year-old as she missed a ride in the silver medal winning team pursuit line up. While disappointed not to come home with a medal, Drummond realises the experience, where she finished 10th in the points and scratch races have only made her stronger and more determined.

A four-week break after her extended track season allowed her to refresh and refocus before heading back to the United States with the DNA Cycling Team. Improved performances and results including a top 10 finish on the opening day of Tulsa Tough have given her confidence for a two month European block with the New Zealand National Team.

Drummond's first taste of European racing will come at the Tour de Feminin, July 5-8, where she is ready to learn as much as possible.

Had a successful start to track season winning Oceania title in the team pursuit and bronze in the omnium, won two medals at the Milton World Cup in December and then won the Madison at the Santiago World Cup what could you take away from those results to start your second elite season?

After what wasn't the best road season, coming away with these results made my decision to come home early last year that much clearer. These results proved that I just needed to have a bit of time off the bike to come back stronger and in a better mind set. My first ever World Cup win is something I will always remember epically, it being in my favourite event the Madison. It gave me hope that I was on track leading into Worlds and Commonwealth Games selection.

Selected for your second World Championships after a standout first Worlds last year with a bronze medal in the team pursuit and fourth in the Madison what were you goals this year?

My goals were not just to make the Worlds Championships again but give them a good go. My team mate Racquel Sheath gave up her omnium spot to focus solely on the Madison event with me. We thought we had a great chance of a podium. So that was my main focus as well as TP.

New Zealand missed the finals in the team pursuit and weren't able to repeat your past Madison success? Was it difficult to deal with? What did you take away from Apeldoorn?

Sometimes you have to sit back and look at the year to understand why things might not go as expected. For me I had come off good form at the World Cups in Canada and Chile, so I just had to keep that form and build on it leading into January and February. On New Year's Day I was in an accident out training and I ended up with concussion, taking me off the bike for three weeks. It meant I missed Road Nationals and other important races to help prepare me for the World Champs. I'm not about excuses but I am realistic that I didn't have the best lead into Worlds to deliver anything I could be proud of. The Championship's hit home for me but in a good way. It was time to step up and that's what I did leading into the Commonwealth Games.

You had made your major focus in 2017 and early 2018 on making the Commonwealth Games team what did it mean to you to have achieved selection? You ended your road season early last year to focus on it how important do you think that was?

To describe what it meant to make my first ever Commonwealth Games is hard because I can't relate it to anything I have done before. It was a surreal experience and one I'll always remember. I know looking back ending my 2017 road season was key for my development on the track. I don't have any regrets here. It was important for me to realise how much I love what I do and how much I wanted to succeed in the sport.

Opening day of the Commonwealth Games was the team pursuit and also happened to be your birthday, New Zealand qualified second fastest but you didn't get a ride in the final. How hard was this for you to deal with? How did you focus for the remaining competition?

Ever since I was kid I made every selection that I strived for. Commonwealth Games were the first time I had ever missed out on riding something I had trained so hard to be a part of. For me I knew I was strong enough to ride that team pursuit final. I proved myself day in day out since the World Championships. I was extremely hurt not to have been given the chance to show case the hard work I had put in, but I realised that this was a huge learning curve for me and it's how I pick myself up after that will determine myself as an athlete. It wasn't easy but I had other races to focus on. It's not exactly a birthday I want to remember.

You lined up in the points and scratch races finishing top 10 in both. How did they go for you? Were you happy with how you raced and the results?

The thing with the Commonwealth Games is there is team racing and if you watch Australia they have that nailed. They all worked so hard for each other to win. This is something that team NZ tried to replicate but we couldn't quite get it dialled on the day. I'm happy but it's not a win and will anyone truly be happy until they are on that top step?

You have spent the last month in the US with DNA Cycling Team and took some good results at Tulsa Tough how did your US block go for you? You second year racing there where do you feel you improved from 2017?

My big learning curve last year was not taking a break after the Track World Championships so going into 2018 this is something I planned and made the most of. I went to the Cook Islands and I spent four weeks off the bike after Commonwealth Games. In my third week off the bike I was extremely motivated and excited to begin my build up for the season. Cycling is a mental game and if you have that right I feel performances will follow. I have just started getting some form back now. I knew heading into US that I wouldn't be at my prime. Patience is key. It will come. I saw huge improvements in my riding and racing. I am confident heading into Italy that I'm on the right track.

Now in Europe for two months with the New Zealand National Team racing on the road and track what are your goals? At the end of the two months what would you like to say you achieved of learned?

I never done a road race in Europe so I'm expecting to learn a lot in my first few races but towards the end of the block I want to start seeing some good results. I should be coming into some good form by then. This will help me leading into the Oceania Championships and Track World Cups in October.

Will be your first time racing in Europe on the road and a step up from New Zealand and the USA what do you think the biggest challenges will be?

Honestly this is something I going to have to wait and see. I'm not quite sure what to expect but from what I have heard it's going to be tough. I'm going to take it day by day and just enjoy the racing and know every day is making me a better rider on the track.

Following that you will head in to track season, the first in the qualifying cycle for Tokyo Olympic Games what are your goals for the track season?

Team Pursuit, Madison and Omnium are all Olympic events so these will be my goals moving forward. To be able to get some good results in World Cups and start racing some Six Days I know I will be well on my way for the track season. With a new year comes new carding so we have some new members on the team Jessie Hodges and Ellesse Andrews who are awesome contenders leading into Tokyo 2020. The women's program is showing great depth and its building a team that I think we can be super excited about leading into the next Olympics.
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