Alison Shanks works on new Olympic race
Sun, 15 Jul 2012 6:48p.m.
By Dave Goosselink
Cyclist Alison Shanks is world champion in the individual pursuit. But after that race was dumped from the Olympic programme, she'll be relying on her teammates to make the podium in London.
But Shanks is crediting a unique partnership with keeping her on track.
It's what Alison Shanks has been doing for the past seven years.
Now the former netballer has her eye on Olympic success, under the guidance of fiancé Craig Palmer.
The sports scientist and coach has been by her side, ever since she made the switch to cycling.
“I think having Craig there to be able to guide me through that, it was having someone that had the belief in your ability, that you could really do something, that really helped that transition,” she says.
The pair met while Palmer was working as a conditioner for the Rebels netball squad.
But an afternoon of cross-training changed their course.
“Just to see how it would pan out, I put her in the lab and tested her on a cycling odometer, and some of the results were really impressive,” says Palmer.
Now after a rollercoaster few years, Shanks is back to her best, reclaiming the individual pursuit world title in April.
“Definitely it was a big high coming off World Champs, and it meant a lot I think to win the individual pursuit in Olympic year,” says Shanks.
But with that solo race dropped for the London Olympics, she has switched her focus to the Teams Pursuit, riding alongside South Canterbury's Lauren Ellis and Hamilton's Jaime Nielsen.
“Physiologically and technically it's a different event,” says Palmer. “So it's a new challenge almost, and that's what's going to make it special and make it just as exciting leading into London.”
The teams are looking to pick up the pace after fading in their final lap at the World Champs, in their ride-off for bronze against Canada.
“Everyone else has stepped up as well, and there are a couple of teams going significantly quicker,” says Palmer. “We haven't clicked yet in a major race. We've got a lot of areas that we need to work on.”
“There's still time,” says Shanks. “We've definitely analysed the rides we did at Worlds and we know that they're not perfect.”
The Kiwis are confident they're not tapped out like some of their rivals, with clear areas to work on before hitting London.
Shanks will have Palmer by her side, but says keeping a professional separation is what has ensured their partnership has survived, both on and off the track.
“When we're on the road it's very much work environment,” she says. “Craig rooms with the staff, and I room with the girls with the teammates and stuff. I think you just have to. And we're in a really lucky position – the fact that Craig is even able to travel away with me.”
But it's her pursuit partners Shanks will be spending the most time with over the next few weeks, in their quest to pedal to the podium.
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