EMILY Watts didn't lump massive expectations on herself after entering the 2020 Road Nationals at Ballarat less than a year after a major injury but the former Bathurst Cycling Club graduate was in fine form.
Watts, contesting just her second year of racing at under 23s nationals, would return home with a bronze medal in the time trial and a fourth placing in a wet and wild criterium.
It's a special achievement for Watts who last April fractured six vertebrae in a crash during a training camp at Bright.
Road Nationals always remained on the cards for Watts and her determination and effort put into riding at the event has certainly paid off.
"I'm stoked with the result. It was only nine months ago I was lying in a hospital bed so my aim was to be competitive at nationals and I think I well and truly achieved that," she said.
"I went into the time trial knowing I had good form and that I could possibly get a medal. After actually getting a medal I was super psyched and had to re-focus for the next races to try and back up that performance."
Watts showed she was in superb condition after her third placing in Wednesday's under 23s time trial.
The Western Region Academy of Sport graduate still had more success on her mind after pulling up well from the ride, knowing that her pet criterium event was coming up.
Watts was never far away from the leaders, even attempting to launch an attack in the dreary conditions, and put herself in a position to claim her second medal of the nationals.
The criterium medal just evaded Watts but it was another great performance on the lengthy comeback trail from injury.
"It was a wet race which made it a scary crit. I only ended up a few metres off the bronze medal but it is what it is," Watts said.
"It was a far less aggressive race than what it was last year. There was attack after attack and we ended up with not many riders left by the end of the race, but everyone was a lot more hesitant this time in the rain.
"I had one shot at an attack this year which I regretted instantly because my legs didn't want to do it."
Unfortunately for Watts she was not named in the Subaru-Giant Racing Team squad to take on the Women's Tour Down Under starting on Thursday.
Watts made her debut in the TDU last year with her former Sydney University squad.
There's not much on the horizon in the short term for Watts who will look ahead to rides in the National Road Series and the Oceania Road Cycling Championships.