Interview with Gracie Elvin: “I’d love to win the Ronde van Vlaanderen”

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Gracie Elvin (born 31 october 1988 in Canberra, Australia) is the current Australian champion. She’s racing since January for Orica-AIS, where she defends the interests of her team leaders. In 2012 she also won the Oceanic Road Race Championship. She previously raced MTB, but she’s decided to stay on the road. Also, on her website she writes all her experiences.

Some Spanish fans may don’t know who you are. How would you describe yourself?
I am an ex-Mountain Biker and this is my second season of Road Racing (and my first full season!). I am an all rounder and a domestique rider who supports the team leaders Emma Johansson and Loes Gunnewijk. I love to be in a breakaway!

How do you feel wearing the Australian champion jersey?
Every day I am proud to wear my National Champion jersey. I always try to be a good representative of my team and my country and I love wearing the special green and gold stripes. Although I feel like I have a much brighter target painted on my back in the races this year and I can’t sneak into breakaways as easily!

Let’s go back to the beginning: who or what made you fall in love with cycling?
I always love being outdoors and being active, I even had my own horse for a long time. When I was 13 my dad set up an old bike for me and I have loved cycling ever since. My dad and I still ride together all the time.

Would you choose cycling again?
I would definitely choose cycling again. Although it is one of the toughest sports both physically and mentally, not to mention the extra difficulties we have as female cyclists, I love riding my bike everyday and the racing is so exciting. Racing in a top-level team is fantastic and I really enjoy how much you have to work together to get a result. Also, I have made some of my best friends through the sport and know I will keep them for the rest of my life.

What does a sportswoman like you renounce to for cycling?
Being away from home (Australia) for 9 months of the year is very difficult as you don’t have your friends or family to see regularly. Fortunately I have a great team that has become my second family!

Gracie Holland
Gracie on the breakout of the 2013 Boels Rental Tour | © www.facebook.com/ladiescyclingphotos

And what do you owe to cycling?
Cycling has given me the confidence to know that I can do anything if I work hard enough for it.

On El Pelotón we’re huge fans of cyclo-cross. Have you ever tried this discipline?
I have never tried cyclo-cross but after five years of MTB I know I would love it! It is getting much more popular in Australia now so maybe I will give it a try soon!

We love your blog, where you write all your race experiences. Why did you start blogging?
I actually started blogging a few years ago when I was a Mountain Biker. On my website are all of my blogs since then including some good crash stories, adventures and even some non-bike related things that I have written. I originally started because I wanted to give a good picture of my racing and traveling experiences to my family and friends who live in Australia, and now many more people are interested to read them which is really cool.

Your team, Orica, is one of the teams that have a men’s and a women’s team. Should the UCI make this mandatory?
Our team enjoys many benefits from being related to the bigger men’s team and there are not many other women’s team who can say the same. I don’t think we should force or beg the UCI to make it mandatory, but maybe introduce a reward system for the professional men’s teams that do have a women’s team.

Gracie Catar
Gracie at the 2013 Tour of Qatar, with the National Champion jersey | © CJ Farquharson

So far, what has been your most special victory?
My most special victory was definitely winning the National Championships in Australia this year in front of my friends and family and to start my first year with the ORICA-AIS team.

And what would you like to win?
I would love to win one of the Spring Classics races, especially the Ronde van Vlaanderen. The rainbow stripes would be nice too though!

You’ll be on the World Championships. Will you be the leader of the Aussie team?
I am very excited to be part of the Australian team for the Worlds, but I won’t be the team leader. I will be riding to support our climbers Tiffany Cromwell and Shara Gillow who are in great form at the moment.

And what will be your objectives?
I will make sure that Tiff and Shara have the best chance of winning the race once it gets to the hard end of the race, so maybe I will have to go into an early breakaway or chase for them. You never know what might happen on the day!

Does the Australian women’s cycling have a future?
Definitely! Our country has always had a lot of talent and results in cycling over the years, but now we are also seeing some depth of competition. The list of riders for the long team for the World Champs goes to show how many good bike riders we already have.

What do you think that UCI should improve on women’s cycling?
I think one of the first things that needs to be done is include a women’s race at a few more of the big men’s races. Races like Flèche Wallone and the Ronde van Vlaanderen are great for women’s cycling because the crowd is already there and can see what we do well before the men’s race comes through later.

Cookson or McQuaid?
Tracey Gaudry (Oceanian Cycling Confederation President)!

How would you sell women’s cycling to get a great TV coverage?
I think we need to sell ourselves as not just bike-racers but as real women. People love to follow a face, a personality or a story. If people get to know us and our teams a little better, they might be more excited to follow our races and cheer for us. Once they start to watch us they will realise how good we are!

And, finally, as a curiosity: what do you know about Spanish women’s cycling?
To be honest, not too much at all! I have noticed some good Spanish riders in our races but don’t see them as often as other nationalities. I am interested to know how popular the sport is for women in Spain and why it hasn’t taken off as much as the men’s.

Thank you for everything and good luck on next races!
Thank you for supporting women’s cycling!

Click here to read the interview in Spanish

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