Diving in the deep end: Rising Australian star Ruby Roseman-Gannon on racing in Europe

Ruby Roseman-Gannon has been lighting up the Australian cycling scene for some time and the 23-year-old made her European pro debut this season.

Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

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When Ruby Roseman-Gannon was racing in Australia in January, she was the hot favorite, the one to watch.

A month into her first European campaign as a pro, the 23-year-old is enjoying a certain sense of anonymity. It won’t last too long with some impressive performances already, such as her second place at the opening stage of the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana behind Elisa Balsamo and a top 20 finish at last weekend’s Strade Bianche.

So while Roseman-Gannon has briefly enjoyed an underdog status, the pressure might be on as she looks to prove herself to her new team BikeExchange-Jayco. She’s hoping for a bit more time to get her legs under her.

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“I felt exhausted a little bit mentally coming here,” Roseman-Gannon told VeloNews of racing in Europe. “But then I really recovered and it’s nice not having any pressure because no one really knows who I am. I’m not a favorite at all… no one’s watching what I’m doing, and I can just kind of like go under the radar.

“But being on a WorldTour team and not having really proven myself in Europe, I felt a little bit of pressure to reach that standard. It was hard because I didn’t know what that standard was, and I really felt like I was diving in the deep end where I could just like be pack fodder holding on for dear life or maybe like I was strong enough to be at the pointy end. I didn’t know so I just like surfed that uncertainty.”

Roseman-Gannon is not a complete newbie at racing on the narrow and twisting roads of Europe. The Australian traveled to the continent in 2019 with the national team and rode several Belgian races, including the Baloise Ladies Tour.

It was an experience she won’t forget for many reasons, from the expense of it to the litany of crashes that plagued some of the racing. She had spent months leading up to the trip working hard on her studies, which meant she wasn’t as fit as she wanted to be.

“I basically had to self-fund that whole trip,” she explained. “I really wanted to do it, but it was expensive because it was through the national program there were some athletes who were paid for, and some that weren’t. I wasn’t. So I worked really hard coming into that and I also was studying and so I wasn’t able to come in with the form I wanted to come in with. I came in a little burnt out from the struggle to get there but it definitely worth it for the understanding of what was required of me physically and skill-wise.

“[At the Baloise Ladies Tour] every day, it was just carnage. On the first day, Jolien D’hoore crashed from third wheel in the sprint and I was about 20th wheel. I crashed and broke my bike. I didn’t break any bones, but I was really bruised. The rest of the Tour was like that. It was just insane how stressful it was just avoiding crashes. I was almost like traumatized from it.”

Going pro and looking to the future

Roseman-Gannon was assured by fellow riders that it wasn’t always like that, and she wasn’t completely put off by her experience. In fact, the following year she felt as though she was ready to make the step up to the professional ranks.

She had enjoyed some strong performances at Australia’s summer of cycling through January and February 2020 and she was in a good place with her studies. Financial concerns in the past had led her to think that a full-time pro career wouldn’t be in her future, but the introduction of structures like the Women’s WorldTour made it a much more realistic possibility.

“I was never ready until maybe the summer of last year, I think I could have gone pro then. But before then I wasn’t ready like physically or maturity-wise,” Roseman-Gannon said. “I also had studies hanging over my head on which I’ve always taken really seriously. Throughout my whole childhood, I didn’t think cycling was going to be my primary career just because of the wage discrepancy between women and men. So, it was a long-term goal to finish my degree with really high grades, and then balance that with cycling.

“I wouldn’t change anything. I think it was literally the perfect way where I was able to study and finish that chapter of my life for now and then also develop my physiology where I had the support so that I could come into like, a team like BikeExchange, where I’m not like struggling financially to support myself in another continent. I know how privileged I am to come the way I have, but personally, it was the right way for me.”

Roseman-Gannon came close to turning professional in 2020, but the coronavirus put an end to that. At the time, she had been planning to balance road racing with her developing track career — she had got into track due to the better financial support it got compared to the road.

However, it was the collapse of that opportunity two years ago that made her realize just how much she loved racing on the road. She continued to race in Australia, but her performances meant that lost chance wasn’t going to be the only one to cross her path.

One of the performances that caught a lot of attention was her second-place finish behind Chloe Hosking in the 2020 national criterium championships. It marked her out as a fast finisher, but Roseman-Gannon doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as just a sprinter.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be a pure sprinter,” she said. “I’ve never had like a really good sprint. On the track especially, it’s pretty evident. If there’s no fatigue in anyone else’s legs, my sprint is not that good. I think I’ll always have a fast finish, but I need the racing to be somewhat hard because I think my sprint is quite fatigue resistant.

“I like hard and exciting racing and I like a bit wind like rain, some heat. I’m not sure about cobbles yet. I don’t think I’ve raced enough on them yet. I like really like racing like that’s why I’m in the sport. I love. Like I love the physical and tactical and psychological side of all those things.”

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