Chloe Hosking firmly back in favour after cycling road race gold

Mike Hytner on the Gold Coast
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Chloe Hosking was emphatic when said it meant a lot to her to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Alex Whitehead/</span>
Chloe Hosking was emphatic when said it meant a lot to her to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal. Photograph: Alex Whitehead/

There may have been some big-name absences, but if any doubt lingered about how much the Commonwealth Games means to those who are competing on the Gold Coast this year, Chloe Hosking provided an emphatic answer after winning gold in the women’s cycling road race.

“It’s so special to win on home soil,” Hosking said. “People say for road cycling Commonwealth Games isn’t that big a deal but you know what? I’m Commonwealth Games champion and it’s a big fucking deal.”

Hosking’s win at Currumbin beachfront was perhaps even more poignant given a falling out with Cycling Australia just seven months ago threatened to derail her career. But after high performance manager Simon Jones overlooked her for last year’s world championships – a decision which was overturned on appeal – Hosking realised she needed to make some changes herself to take her career to the next level.

“It’s really the team behind the team,” she said. “In November I took a step back. There were lots of changes at Cycling Australia, it was a bit of a slap in the face, but I realised I still have lots to learn. Since then, I’ve got a nutritionist and a sports psychologist and I’ve realised I’m not an island. I need people around me to help me get to the level that I’m at.”

Her victory came before lunchtime on Saturday courtesy of a perfect Australian set-up for Hosking to sprint home at Currumbin beachfront on an uncharacteristically overcast day on the Gold Coast. The 2010 Games bronze medallist benefited from a well-executed lead-out from Tiffany Cromwell in the final sprint after a leading group of 11, including four Australians, had dropped the peloton following strong climbs in the penultimate and final laps.

“We went into the race today with a very clear plan,” she said. “We executed it to perfection. Working together, it’s just the best. Everyone backs each other and it doesn’t really matter who wins the medal as long as someone does.”

Remarkably, Hosking’s participation in the race had been in doubt just two weeks earlier after a nasty crash at the Tour of Flanders left her in hospital, but having been told she was “just being a drama queen” she quickly got back in the saddle to complete preparations for the Gold Coast Games.

Hosking’s compatriot, Steele Von Hoff, had it even worse: seven weeks ago he lay in a hospital bed after breaking six vertebrae in a racing crash in Melbourne. Incredibly, on Saturday he replicated Hosking’s feat by claiming gold in the men’s race, winning a sprint at the line ahead of Jonathan Mould of Wales and Clint Hendrinks of South Africa.

“Six days after the crash I started training again on a recumbent [training lying down],” he said. “I just wanted to get my legs spinning. “And then I thought, I have seven weeks until the Games so I’d better start training [properly].”

Von Hoff’s win, which came after time trial winner Cameron Meyer teed him up for the final sprint, gave Australia a clean sweep of all four road cycling events. Katrin Garfoot had claimed the women’s time trial earlier in the week.

But there was disappointment for Australia’s women in the hockey final in Labrador, where New Zealand claimed their first Commonwealth hockey gold with a resounding 4-1 upset win.

The relatively inexperienced Hockeyroos had not conceded a single goal in their run to the gold medal match, which included a 0-0 draw when the two sides met earlier in the competition, but with drizzle coming down at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre the floodgates finally opened.

Shiloh Gloyn got the Black Sticks on their way just before half-time before Rose Keddell and Olivia Merry opened up a 3-0 lead in the third quarter. Jodie Kenny gave hope to the home crowd but when Anita McLaren scored with just under five minutes remaining, the result was beyond salvaging.

It is the first time in four Games the Hockeyroos have failed to win gold and Savannah Fitzpatrick said she was devastated by the result. “Individually, I had two early chances so I think if I had of put those away that would have changed the game, so that hurts,” she said. “Silver seems worse than bronze sometimes.”

England collected bronze earlier after hammering India 6-0 and later, Australia and New Zealand will meet again to contest the men’s gold medal match.

In boxing, the host nation added another two gold medals to their collection, with the prospect of more to come later in the day. Anja Stridsman beat England’s Paige Murney and Harry Garside defeated Manish Kaushik of India in the respective women’s and men’s 60kg finals.

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