Dani King has commenced a new chapter of her cycling career at the Santos Women’s Tour in Australia and if results are anything to go by it’s going to be a good read.
The 25-year-old applied the same resolve that has seen her overcome recent physical and political adversity to make a firm impression on the four-day title race that Katrin Garfoot (Orica-AIS) won.
King (Wiggle-High5) claimed the mountain classification and finished fourth overall today despite waking up with whiplash following a heavy crash within the final kilometre of yesterday’s penultimate third stage.
The hard and fast race marks the start of a new direction for the London 2012 team pursuit gold medallist, who has through circumstance adjusted her focus to the road for the Rio Olympic Games.
“This is my first full road season to be honest,” King said. “It’s completely different for me because normally at this time of year I’m doing World Cups on the track.
“I’m going for the selection for the Rio road race this year so I’ve got to prove myself early and that was one of the reasons that I wanted to come to Australia to start the season in good shape.”
King has turned the tables on 12 months of adversity in which she was mooted from Rio Olympic track team selection. It was a blow that followed a horrific training accident in which she suffered eight broken ribs, a punctured lung and bruised liver.
The Hampshire champion showed no sign of vulnerability racing in Adelaide, South Australia, however, where she spoke with a resolute determination.
King could have been forgiven for playing a lesser role in the stage two 20km criterium, which her team-mate Annette Edmondson won, but instead held her own in what was a full-throttle race.
“A 44km/h average criterium was a good test for me, and I was fine,” she said.
“I’m really strong mentally. I got engaged a couple of months ago [to long-term partner, Matt Rowe] …and I’m really enjoying the road. I’ve got my confidence back now.”
King has not spoken to the British Cycling selectors who advised her last year to focus on the road, however, intends to leave little for them to doubt as she contests another selection battle with the federation.
“It’s all about me proving myself at the start of the season,” she said. “But I’d be in full support for Lizzie Armitstead on the road and I’m willing to sacrifice everything out there on the road for her. I think I could help her a lot, especially positioning into climbs. I think I’m that sort of rider with an engine that can make sure she’s in the right position going into crucial parts of the race.”
King worked well with trade team-mates racing here in Adelaide and is hopeful she can continue the trend on the way to, hopefully, Rio.
Watch: Show us your scars - Dani King
“The team in Australia has really gelled. We’ve got trust and belief in each other and when we go for a goal everyone gives it 100 per cent, and whoever we’re riding for we just sacrifice ourselves for them on the day. That’s a real strong point on the team,” she said.
“There are some incredible riders on the team and they’re going to be going for the win for the WorldTour series, so I’ll hopefully be playing a part in that and then potentially getting my own chance in a couple of races as well.”
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Sophie Smith is an Australian journalist, television reporter and presenter, who has provided coverage for Cycling Weekly from races across the world. She has covered eight Tours de France, as well as reporting for national and international newspapers as well as other magazines.
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