Cyclist faces her demons and comes up trumps


Canberra rower-turned-cyclist Ailie McDonald has been known for the wrong reasons when it comes to road cycling time trials, thanks to a spectacular face plant off the starting ramp at the Tour of Geelong in 2011.

But on Tuesday, the 21-year-old redeemed herself from the embarrassing moment that still haunts her, successfully navigating the ramp at the national road championships and going on to win the under-23 time trial title in Ballarat.

“A lot of people don’t let me forget I did that, I think I had about three people say, ‘just make it down the start ramp, Ailie’ before I did the race this morning,” McDonald said after her triumph.

“It was pretty funny, it hurt a lot, but it was pretty funny, I can admit that.”

The infamous start, seen above, came early on in McDonald’s cycling career, after a recurring back injury led her to switch from rowing as a teenager. She was allowed to start again, finishing fifth.

“I hadn’t done too many time trials before that. I’d made it safely down a few start ramps before that one, but had a shocker, obviously.”

McDonald won’t contest Thursday’s criterium or Saturday’s road race, instead returning to Canberra to prepare for the track nationals in Sydney at the end of January.

“I’ve been training for the track at the moment, so I haven’t done a lot of hills or sprinting or anything like that, so the most ideal event to do was the time trial and not the road race, where there’s a hill every lap.

“I didn’t really expect to win it, I just wanted to go out and go as hard as I could, but it’s always nice to get something for your efforts.”

Canberra’s Michael Matthews finished third in the men’s time trial, 45.1 seconds behind first-placed Luke Durbridge.

Gracie Elvins was Canberra’s top finisher in women’s time trial, finishing eighth after Shara Gillow blitzed the field by one minute, nine seconds.

The ACT has 21 cyclists in the criteriums and road races, including Mathew Hayman, Nathan Haas, Chloe Hosking and Jessie MacLean.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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