Track cyclist Alaya Humber is exceeding all expectations, especially her own, in her first full track season.
Just when she thought it could not get any better than a top four finish in the time-honoured Austral Wheelrace, the Ballarat 17-year-old topped it.
Humber claimed the biggest win of her fledgling career in the Wangaratta Wheelrace on the opening day of the Cycling Victoria Christmas Track Carnivals on Thursday.
“It’s so good.”
Humber made the most of her outmark of 360m, teaming up with two other girls to set the pace and then making the most of a strong lead-out to secure the race in a hectic sprint.
“We worked well together, taking turns. We stayed away and they led me out,” an appreciative Humber said.
Not only did she defy her rivals in the open 2000m wheelrace, but also extreme heat.
“It was so hot.
“My throat was burning so much,” Humber said.
It was only this time last year that Humber was starting to get involved in track racing, having followed her younger sister Iesha Humber into the saddle.
Her development has been under the guidance of former Australian representative Damien Keirl as part of the Ballarat-based Sovereign Hill track cycling program, which also includes her sister.
Keirl said Alaya had made tremendous progress, with her success a reward for hard work and commitment to training.
Humber said as exciting as it was winning in Wangaratta, she was still coming to terms with her fourth in the Austral – the oldest ongoing track cycling race in the after being first contested in 1887 – in mid-December.
“It was big. Just getting into the final.’’
She described the whole experience as “crazy” – just missing third position.
Humber went from Wangaratta to Shepparton, and then two days at Bendigo to round out the Christmas track carnivals.
She said her focus would now be on training for the state junior championships in March.