GRACIE Elvin has grabbed an unexpected opportunity to secure a national cycling title.
Elvin upstaged an array of more experienced and better credentialled teammates and rivals to land gold in the Mars Cycling Australia Road National Championships’ elite women’s road race at Buninyong on Saturday.
She sprinted away from Joanne Hogan (Victoria), with former champion Carla Ryan (Queensland) third.
Elvin, 24, who finished fifth last year, went into the 106.6-kilometre event with a support role in her new team Orica-AIS as the most likely outcome for her.
“We had a plan.
“It’s not the outcome I was expecting,” the ACT-based Elvin said.
“I can’t believe it
“I’m super excited.”
Elvin has had a meteoric rise in the sport.
A road cyclist as a junior, she switched to mountain bikes for five years.
“I loved it, but always knew I’d get to the road.”
So when she earned an invitation to an Australian Institute of Sport development road cycling camp, she made the most of it to earn a place in the squad.
Then late last year an even bigger dream came to realization – a contract with GreenEDGE.
No national title comes easily and this was no exception for Elvin.
She had to cross an early gap to get into a lead group and then ride the tactical race of her life to take the honours.
With the race changing by the minute, the title chase went to a race in four inside the last 20 kilometres after an early breakaway was reeled in.
Elvin found herself fighting for medals with Miranda Griffiths, Hogan and Ryan.
Knowing she was the best sprinter in the quartet, Elvin said she made sure she looked after herself in the last lap (10km) – especially up the climb. She said with the four almost at a standstill 500m from the line, she was the one who broke the deadlock and “went for it”.
“I was confident and I made it.”
While Elvin made it through the race without incident, she was not so fortunate at the presentation ceremony.
She slipped on a “champagne” saturated surface as she stepped off the podium, she fell and required treatment by paramedics for a bruised wrist.