UCI Road World Championships: Alison Jackson ‘excited to suffer’ in road race

The Canadian crashed in the TT last Sunday, but she's eager to get stuck into the road race in Wollongong.

Photo: Tim de Waele / Getty Images

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KIAMA DOWNS, Australia (VN) — Alison Jackson is “excited to suffer” this weekend in the women’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships.

The 33-year-old is set to line up this Saturday as part of a five-rider Canadian team that is an outsider for the final podium.

Jackson comes into the world championships in Wollongong following a very competitive end to the summer where she won the points classification at the Tour of Scandinavia with a hugely aggressive performance and went on to take a top 10 overall at the Simac Ladies Tour.

“I think the motivation is super high and sometimes that will take you pretty far at the end of the day,” Jackson said. “When you’re motivated, you want to be here, and you’re excited to suffer a little bit and that’s where I’m at. I really believe in the team that we have here and the girls, so I’m just excited to work with them.”

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Canada’s squad for this year’s worlds features a mixture of youth and experience with Jackson and Leah Kirchmann the elder stateswomen of the squad. Completing the lineup are emerging talents Olivia Baril, Simone Boilard, and Magdeleine Vallieres Mill.

Jackson has a good record at the world championships over the years and took a career-best finish of sixth in Leuven last season. After a strong 2022 season, Jackson is hopeful that she can hang in for a good result on the tough course, but she accepts that it may come down to the stronger climbers in the team.

“I hope so. It really will depend on how it’s raced, it’s a tough climby course. I’m a good classics rider with some climbing and punchy technical course,” she said. “This one is on the higher end of the climbing but then that’s why we have a team here that has a few more of the strengths that I have. We will work together, and hopefully, we can come out with a good result.”

The main finishing circuit around Wollongong features two steep climbs that the riders will have to tackle on each of the six laps. They will play a defining role in the final race selection, but a lot of the attention is on the earlier loop over Mount Keira before the riders reach Wollongong proper.

The entire loop is 34.2km and it is, of course, dominated by the 8.7km-long Mount Keira. The climb averages five percent but hits a maximum of 15 percent and it will certainly split the bunch up, at least in the short term.

Whether or not it is going to have a lasting impact on the race is up for debate and Jackson believes the race could go one of two ways.

“For sure it’s going to have an impact. It will leave some people behind, for sure,” she said. “Our reference points are the Yorkshire worlds where there was a steep, longer climb early and it never really came back together or maybe it will race more like Innsbruck where there was a big climb before the circuits, and it broke apart but it came back together. We’ll see what the tactics are of the other teams and how people are going and also what the weather will do and the wind will have an impact as well.”

Jackson kicked off her world championships campaign a little earlier than usual this season, making her debut in the time trial event Sunday. Though things didn’t go quite to plan after she was taken out by the wind on a corner, she still enjoyed herself and it has given her a good boost ahead of this weekend’s road race.

“This is my first time racing the time trial at the world championships and I was just excited to do it. The crowds are fantastic here, there were people cheering for Canada and cheering for me, I could hear my name out there,” Jackson said. “It was just exciting to lay the power down on a course like that in Australia, which is a beautiful country. I just wanted to do it really as a test and see where I fit in at the worlds.”

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