REIGNING Australian criterium champion Rebecca Wiasak is urging cycling fans to get on their bikes in the fight against cancer.
Ms Wiasak, who will defend her crown on Friday night, is already preparing to be back riding in town next month as a Ballarat Cycle Classic ambassador.
Ballarat is a special place for the Canberra-based athlete.
Ms Wiasak won the women’s criterium without a team on Sturt Street last summer, coming off a strong track training period. The result helped to springboard Ms Wiasak to a national record and silver medal for the individual pursuit in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
She returns on Friday riding solo once more, even more determined, this time with a focus on road preparations after a shock Cycling Australia axing to her track funding.
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“I love to be defending my title in Ballarat,” Ms Wiasak said. “I have refocused and am fully committed to the road...I am on my own, which makes it harder. It’s about knowing when and where to be in the right place.”
Hailing from Geelong, a school friend who lives in Ballarat, suggested Ms Wiasak ride the Cycle Classic to help raise money and awareness for Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute.
What a way to start 2019! Special to race at home in Geelong, in the National Criterium Champion colours. Won the bunch sprint for 2nd on Day 1 @BayCrits in Eastern Gardens. Loved having all my family and so many friends out cheering for me today. 📷 @kirstybaxter79pic.twitter.com/qbMGv9k9Mr— Rebecca Wiasak (@RebeccaWiasak) January 1, 2019
For Ms Wiasak, this was also a way to give back to the region and on an issue affecting many people.
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Ms Wiasak became an event ambassador last year but a the ride clashed with a Commonwealth Games training camp.
It will be a change of pace for Ms Wiasak: the Buninyong course is all about Sunday’s elite women’s road race right now; the Cycle Classic, riding on the national course, is about having a go for a good cause.
“It’s incredible the work (FECRI) do. Everyone’s got their own reasons for doing the ride, even if it might be just riding for support,” Ms Wiasak said.
“I’m looking forward to riding the course relaxed and enjoy how picturesque it is, talking to people. It’s a chance for me to speak to people while riding and give some tips. Cycling’s something I started when I was a bit older. It’s a sport you can really start at any age.”
Ballarat Cycle Classic is on February 17. Details: ballaratcycleclassic.com.au.
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