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Interview: Ashlee Ankudinoff
By Bart Hazen
Date: 7/25/2009
Interview: Ashlee Ankudinoff

Interview: Ashlee Ankudinoff

Interview with 18 year old track specialist Ashlee Ankudinoff (Australia). She won the bronze medal in the team pursuit at the Senior Track Worlds in Poland and is a multiple champion of Oceania.

Can you introduce yourself
Hi, my name is Ashlee Ankudinoff, I am an 18 year old cyclist from N.S.W, Australia. I'm only fairly new to the sport of cycling having come from triathlons in 2005. I love a challenge and pushing myself through the pain barrier. I'm wanting to become a Professional Cyclist both on the Road and Track, came to Holland in 2009 to get a bit of exposure and to get stronger for track.

Why did you choose cycling as your sport?
I started cycling at the age of 15 in 2005 on the road, all my life I have been pretty active and did most sports when I was younger. I competed at a high level in triathlon before I moved to cycling. Triathlon season was when track season was on so I was asked to have a go at track cycling and that's when I gave away triathlon for good. Triathlon training was very demanding and hard to juggle my studies with the training.

What kind of rider is Ashlee Ankudinoff?

I would like to think of myself as being a bit of an all rounder, I can sprint if its a bunch sprint, I can climb reasonably well, and if its flat and windy I can push big gears either to stay with the bunch or break away. I love getting to the front of the bunch and gradually picking up the pace and stretching everyone out.

Which hobbies do you have next to cycling?
I'm a bit of a sport fanatic, I love watching any sport whether its cricket (which is really boring to some) or its action sports. I am currently studying Sports Business at college and hope to run a women's professional team when I retire from cycling with my degree. Also do a bit of walking, running and love going to the beach.

Ashlee Ankudinoff
Photo © 2009 Bart Hazen

How do you look back on the first half of the 2009 season? Both for road and track.
When I look back on what I have achieved and done this season it has been amazing. I had an awesome year in 2008 becoming a 2x junior world champion, and earlier this year I was fortunate enough to make the senior Australian team for Track worlds in Poland. I was in the Team Pursuit with Josie Tomic and Sarah Kent, we ended up in the bronze medal ride off with the Netherlands actually, we walked away with the bronze medal very happy considering we were 18 and 19 years old. With the Road this year, I haven't done much racing in Australia which is why we came over to Holland for some road racing, but I have come away with a win so far at Schaijk and I have also had quite a few 6th's in bunch finishes, I am just happy to finished all these races in Holland cause it is alot harder racing here than it is racing in Australia.

What performance/achievement are you most proud of?
I would have to say winning two Junior World Track titles in 2008 in South Africa was my most proudest Achievement/ performance, I trained so hard for this competition and it was such a relief for all my hard work to be rewarded, will never forget standing on the top of the podium and singing the National Anthem for the first time.

You are both successful on the track and road. For the future you are going to combine both disciplines? Or is the focus more on the road as more track riders of Australia did in the past?

I would have to say at the moment I still want to combine road and track, if I am fortunate enough to represent Australia at the 2012 Olympics on the track, then maybe I will switch my focus to road and become a road rider after the Olympics. But in the next 2 years I would love to sign pro as a road rider and track rider.

What's the big difference between the program of the Australian Institute of Sport and the program of the NSW Institute of Sport where your coach Gary Sutton is a part of?

There isn't much of a difference between the two institutes they are both awesome in there own way. I suppose with the AIS it is a more select group where we have a women's track endurance squad and we get given cycling kit, bikes and lots of training camps. With the NSW institute it looks after both men and women and we don't get as much equipment as the AIS give to me. But as for Gary Sutton being my personal coach and the National women's coach he is a very fair and great coach.

In action during the criterium of Schaijk
Photo © 2009 Bart Hazen

The past weeks you rode several races in Europe together with the AIS team. Josie Tomic, Sarah Kent, Tess Downing and you rode very well and showed the great potential the team has. What are the strengths of the team?
Yeah, over the past few weeks I definitely think we have ridden well as a team, because we don't live together back home in Australia racing as a team is all very new to us. But I think we have mastered it now, we have been on the podium quite a few times which has had alot to do with our great teamwork. Our biggest Strength of the team is we are not selfish, if one of our team mates tries to break away, we don't chase them down we do everything we can to get to the front and slow down the bunch so she can get away. What also makes our team strong is the fact that we never give up and put our body on the line for our team mates. We all get along great and I love racing with these girls.

In the end of July the team will head back to Australia. What's the schedule for the rest of the season?
Unfortunately we leave on the 29th July and go back to winter in Australia, the plans for the rest of the season is just getting ready for all the track world cups. In September we have our first camp. There isn't much racing back home so it will just be all training.

What do you prefer the most in racing?
To be honest I really haven't done much road racing to say what I really prefer, but from my experience here in Holland I would have to say I am really liking the tough circuits of the criteriums. I also like fast flowing races where the adrenaline is pumping through me in and out of corners.

Which race(s) in Europe you want to ride if given the opportunity?
I wouldn't mind having a go at the Giro, that is after my track days are finished and I have leaned up a bit, but I would also like to have a go at the 6 day racing on the track.

Winner of the Schaijk criterium
Photo © 2009 Bart Hazen

What race has been a favorite of yours?
This race was back home in Australia at nationals in 2008, was a 15km circuit with 4 steep but short climbs, we had to do the circuit 5 times, and I just remember I got dropped on the first hill of the first lap and was about to pull out, not sure what stopped me from pulling out but I kept riding and got better as the race went on, I ended up finishing 3rd. Even though I didn't win I learnt alot about myself and to never give up.

Who has inspired you, or currently inspires you to race (or in the present) ?

My mum is a big inspiration to me, she has given up so much for me from driving me to the track at nights to getting up early to take me to the gym. She believes in me and sticks by me through the good times and the bad.

Also my Coach Gary Sutton has been inspirational, he always puts up with me, never has he given up on me when I am struggle with my riding and he also motivates me to keep getting up and going.

What are your goals for the second part of the 2009 season? and if you don't mind.. Long term goals as a person and cyclist.
My goals for the second part of the season are to have some good results on the track at World cups to give myself the best opportunity to make the Commonwealth Game and also be a part of the Australian Track team for the Worlds next year.

Long term goals would have to be to represent Australia at the Olympics, World championships, and being the best in the world, also ride in Europe in a Professional team . Besides being a cyclist I would still like to be involved with sport either doing sports management, event management or even running my own professional team.

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