As we continue our popular series focussing on national road series athletes in 2015, we caught up with the multi- disciplined former triathlete, Specialized Securitor 2014 NRS guest rider and track sensation Ashlee Ankudinoff.
BICYCLING AUSTRALIA: Where are you now (as we do this interview) and why?
ASHLEE ANKUDINOFF: I am currently sitting on a plane bound for Adelaide. For the last week and a half I was over in London competing at the track World Cup. It’s a long journey home and I can’t wait to get back to Aus!
BA: Since this column is mostly about the National Road Series, first up, can you tell us what your NRS experience has been?
AA: I have had nothing but very good experiences in the NRS. I have ridden with two teams, Boss Nutrixion and Specialized Securitor. I always enjoy coming back home and racing in the NRS.
BA: Where do you live when you are not racing around the country on your bikes?
AA: I live with my parents and my younger sister in the Sutherland Shire. At the moment, I am living with a lovely couple for summer track camps in Adelaide.
BA: Are you working, studying or living the dream as a full time rider?
AA: I am currently a full time rider. BA: What is your home cycling club? AA: St George Cycling Club in Sydney.
BA: How did you get into cycling?
AA: I was a triathlete with the famous Cronulla Tri Club and was also in the NSWIS (NSW Institute of Sport) squad which enabled me to do the national series travelling around Australia. I joined St George CC to help improve my cycling leg. I starting getting a few good results in my cycling (making the Australian Junior World Track Team) and cycling won me over.
BA: Sprinter or stayer? Roadie or trackie…or something else?
AA: I would say trackie for the next two years until Rio and then I’ll go full time road.
BA: When did you join it?
AA: I have been in the Australian Institute of Sport since 2009.
BA: Had you been in other teams previously?
AA: On the road I have raced with Nutrixion and also have guest rode for Target Trek and Specialised Securitor in the NRS.
BA: Do you think it is important for a bike rider to have a coach, even juniors and masters and club level riders?
AA: I think it is somewhat important to have a coach as they set your training and that might just give you a bit of motivation if someone is overseeing what you do. They also analyse performances, provide encouragement and guidance.
BA: What’s your favourite event?
AA: I really love all the endurance events on the track. But if I had to pick one it would be the team pursuit. I love lining up alongside three of my team mates and racing for that top step on the podium.
BA: Some of your favourite rides?
AA: My favourite ride in Sydney is definitely down south along the coast road, from Sutherland down through the national park, brewing up in Wollongong and riding back home the same way. In Adelaide I would have to say anywhere in the Hills. Fantastic challenging training routes. It’s also good for ‘spot the koala’ on the long five hour rides!
BA: What does a typical day of training look like for you?
AA: A typical day would be anything from gym in the morning, to a track session in the afternoon, sometimes double track sessions or just a long road ride for the day.
BA: Do you have a life outside of cycling?
AA: I love spending time with family and friends. One of my favourite hobbies is to watch planes – I could very easily sit and watch them all day. I am also a sports fanatic so will try and go watch other sports like cricket, AFL and rugby league.
BA: Have you raced overseas?
AA: Certainly have! For the last four years I have raced in many parts of Europe during the Australian winter.
BA: What’s your program for the next year look like?
AA: For the next couple of months it will be all track focused. Then I will be racing road in Australia, plus a three month stint in Europe before it’s time to head back to the boards.
BA: What makes you a better rider? The gear, the training?
AA: Having the right mindset, accepting challenges when faced with them at training. And learning how to push through the pain barrier. If I can do all the small things at training I know come race day I would be in the best condition I could be in.
BA: How do you stay motivated? Have you had any injuries that have kept you off the bike?
AA: I had a chronic injury back in 2010 that I am still managing, a spasmed piriformus that was pushing on my sciatic nerve, and I also have two bulging discs that I constantly have to manage.
BA: Where do you think cycling is at in Australia, compared to other countries?
AA: Europe, the Netherlands in particular – are in advance of cycling in Australia. They have high quality races, have numerous races per week and have great crowds supporting the riders. However Australia is catching up. With the inclusion of more NRS races for women and the number of riders and teams entering the NRS series, the signs are promising. Summer racing in Australia is also getting worldwide coverage now.
BA: Do you think the NRS is a good thing?
AA: Over the last few years I have seen the NRS get bigger and more competitive. It’s great to see 14 or so teams registered for next year. a good stepping stone to wanting to go over to Europe and race. Also it could not happen without the sponsors and volunteers who help put the event on.
BA: Has the NRS helped women’s cycling, do you think? What do you think is needed to encourage more women to ride and/or race bikes?
AA: I think what we are doing now with women cycling courses, women’s only bunch rides and graded women’s races will only encourage more women of all ages and abilities to take the sport up. We need to make it safe, for all cyclists.
BA: What’s your big dream now?
AA: Making the Olympic team for Rio in 2016 and on top of that stepping on that top step of the podium.
BA: What advice do you have for others out there with big dreams?
AA: Make sure you chase your dream no matter how ridiculous or out of reach people may say it is. If it is your dream it is important to you. Never ever give up. If it were easy, everyone would do it! Push through that pain barrier and your dream WILL come true.
AT A GLANCE
AGE: 24 NRS TEAM: No NRS team currently but is in Australian track team.
HOME CYCLING CLUB: St George Cycling Club SPONSORS: Unfortunately I don’t have any sponsors. Would love to hear from any prospective candidates though!
CURRENT BIKE: Scott Foil COACH: Brad McGee when in NSW and Gary Sutton as a part of the AIS
BEST RESULTS 2010 world team pursuit champion 2012 world championship bronze medallist. Silver medal in the omnium at the Glasgow World Cup by a count back. Winning both Cronulla and Wollongong NSW GPcriteriums Second overall in the Tour of Murray this year.