A MONTH after claiming a NSW crown in the women’s under 19s hill climb at Mount Panorama, Bathurst cycling star Hollee Simons added two more state titles to her portfolio at Akuna Bay.
Racing in the time trial, criterium and road race events, Simons won two more gold medals, giving her a massive boost as she attempts to qualify for the Junior World Titles being held in the USA in September.
In the past the time trial has been a format in which the teenager has shone, so her victory at Akuna Bay wasn’t a major surprise.
However, given the amount of time she has been dedicating to her road racing, Simons still had to work hard.
“For my whole cycling career basically I have been a time trial rider and have generally excelled in that event, but in the last year or so I’ve tried to lean my training towards road racing,” she said.
“In every stage race you have road races but you don’t necessarily have time trials, so that’s why I made that decision.
“In the time trial last weekend the conditions were pretty tough, it was raining at the start and then suddenly 200 metres up the road it was dry again.
“I felt quite good and after a while my rhythm was nice and I started to see the girl who started two minutes in front of me, so I knew I must be doing well. I passed her and ended up winning by about 10 seconds.”
That ride came on the Saturday and the following day she fronted up to ride a difficult course for the road race.
What unfolded was a dominant performance Simons would never have imagined.
She was part of a break formed early in the 55 kilometre race and after that it took barely five kilometres before Simons was left at the front with just one other rider, Tamworth-based Tori Saunders.
The pair distanced themselves from the chasing group and were in seemingly no danger of getting reeled in. Therefore it became a battle of tactics between the pair to see who could make the decisive move.
“On the circuit we were racing, you basically came down to the bottom and rode down a wall, turned around and went straight back up again. My technical abilities were a bit better than Tori’s, so I decided that’s where I would try something,” she explained.
“We got to the bottom and I went as hard as I could from there and tried to pull away. I got a break on her pretty quickly and with about 17 kilometres to ride I was clear of her and ended up finishing the race a couple of minutes ahead.
“It was a very tough course, the hills were hard enough that I had to go to the small chain ring and just grind away, it was hard to get any power.”
The two wins will now take pride of place among her long list of elite titles.
“They sit pretty highly, I’ve won a few now over the years, but as I get older the level of competition gets harder. This is definitely the proudest I’ve been about a win given the circumstances and the quality of girls I was racing against,” she said.
“Now I’ve got the Battle on the Border next weekend, it is a National Road Series event so it is a massive step up and the stages are around 130 kilometres, so just getting to the finish will be an achievement.
“At the end of July the national titles are coming up which will double as the last selection race for the Junior Worlds. There will be about nine girls in contention for five spots. Hopefully I’m not one of the four who miss out.”
The Battle on the Border will see Simons representing the Subaru NSWIS NKC outfit. Her team-mates include fellow Bathurst cyclist Kirsten Howard and Ash Ankudinoff, the current World Team Pursuit Champion.