You beauty: Kimberley Wells celebrates her win in the criterium event on Tuesday. Photo: Eddie Jim
FOR A 27-year-old doctor pursuing a lifelong dream to cycle professionally, this was the kind of result that indicated a crazy-sounding idea might not actually be so crazy.
More accustomed to working in hospital emergency wards than lining up against elite cyclists, Kimberley Wells relegated one of Australia’s brightest female talents, Orica-GreenEDGE rider and defending Bay Cycling Classic champion Melissa Hoskins, to second and won the opening race of the year.
Willing to put her day job aside if she can land an elite contract to race overseas, Wells pulled off the breakthrough victory in a 45-minute criterium with an impressive tactical move in the last 50 metres. She boxed in Hoskins and three-time Bay Classic champion Rochelle Gilmore on the final turn and stalled their dash to the line, paving the way for herself.
Her performance on the Geelong foreshore riding for the Australian domestic team, Specialized Securitor, impressed national women’s road coach Martin Barras. If Wells continues to perform well – she will ride the criterium and road race at the national road titles later this month – Barras could invite her to join the national program that operates out of Europe.
For now, Wells is undertaking locum work, mostly in hospitals, in order to be as flexible as possible for her cycling pursuits.
“I’ve dabbled in cycling for a long time, but it’s probably in the last year or two that I’ve decided to take it to a more serious level in terms of getting coaching and making myself available for more racing,” said Wells, who is being coached by retired Australian champion and Olympic gold medallist Sara Carrigan.
“I have always fostered a desire to do sport at an elite level. I remember being in fourth-year med school and wanting to do this, but ... disposable income is hard when you’re at uni.
“As a woman trying to do cycling at that point, I couldn’t do it. So basically I just had to wait another three or four years before I was in a position to be able to do it. For the men it’s a different story ... the guys can make a living out of cycling.’’
Hoskins said she wasn’t surprised by the result, as she had also noted Wells’ strong form of late in the NSW grand prix series.
The Orica-GreenEDGE rider also knows first-hand that the Bay Classic can be won with consistency rather than with stage victories. Hoskins didn’t win a single race in last year’s four-stage event but managed to win overall due to her high placings.
Bay Cycling Classic, elite women, stage one: Kimberley Wells (Specialized Securitor) 1, Melissa Hoskins (Orica–GreenEDGE) 2, Rochelle Gilmore (Wiggle Honda) 3.