Hills of home launched career

WOMEN'S national time trial gold medallist Felicity Wardlaw credits growing up in Ringarooma and riding the big hills around it with helping her achieve a top-of-the-podium finish at this week's national road championships in Ballarat.

The 35-year-old, Victorian-based Wardlaw was born and bred in Tasmania, living in the North-East as a kid and later in Devonport on the North-West Coast after a family move.

The former Launceston Church Grammar student credits her school for installing a love of sport which saw her try her hand at rowing, triathlons and mountain biking before settling on road cycling.

She moved to Victoria about eight years ago for her career and took up professional cycling two years ago.

After finishing third in the national time trial last year the Bicycle Superstore women's team rider continues to juggle work and cycling commitments.

But after this year's gold medal time trial success she has the Commonwealth Games and world championships firmly on her radar.

"I was pretty rapt and excited to win it - I wanted to finish on the podium but wasn't sure what position I would finish on," she said.

"I was pretty surprised to finish by that much of a winning margin of 38 seconds which is a lot in the time trial at that level.

"The other girls put up a big fight but on the day I felt really good and my legs felt good so I had to leave it all out there."

Wardlaw said her strengths as a cyclist lie in the time trial but a lot of the training she does for that can also be applied to the road race which she will ride today in the nationals.

"The time trial was what my focus was on for the nationals but I'm hoping to follow that up with a good road race.

"I'd like to finish in the top 10 but so much can happen in terms of tactics and being in the right place at the right time and keeping your eyes open.

"It's going to be a tough course but compared to my form this time last year I'm a lot stronger and fitter and have the strength and power to be up there and fight for where I want to be."

She said the Orica GreenEDGE team would be keen to be the dominant team and take the jersey back over to Europe but anything could happen in a road race and she has her own strong team around her for support.

"We won't have a protected or main rider but if there is a break up the road we will need someone in it but it's sort of an opportunistic race and the good thing is we do have a lot of strengths within our team."

Her national time trial victory was one more box ticked in her plan to make the Commonwealth Games and World Championships but Wardlaw knows she has a couple of other boxes to tick to secure a spot.

"I've got the Oceanias in February which is a UCI event so I will have to do well in that to favour me but it depends on the selectors and what they are after," she said.

"It would definitely be the time trial I'd target but I would be happy to do whatever role I needed to do including the road race."There's still a bit of work to do to get the green ticket to get to race overseas in the Worlds team or Comm Games team - still a lot more improvement to make."

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