Wendy Houvenaghel will represent Great Britain for the first time since missing out on Olympic gold on Tuesday when the Upperlands rider takes part in the World Individual Time Trial in the Netherlands.
Since the devastation of GB cycling not letting her race in the women’s team pursuit that would have seen her take home a gold medal – and her subsequent comments about how she felt about the situation – the 37-year-old refuses to sulk in the corner.
She recently admitted that some of what she said in those interviews, especially about her team mates, were ill-judged and came when she was still very emotional about the situation.
Not only that but she got on her bike and won her fourth National time trial title, her first came back in 2003, and put herself in contention for selection for this week and goes into today’s 24.3km event oozing confidence and in great form, having just won the UCI 1.1 Chrono Champenois in France nine days ago.
“Time trialling is something that I’ve always had a strength with,” said Houvenaghel.
“I think this particular course is one that I identified that would work to my strengths as a rider, so having had a few good results in the lead-up to this competition, even though I’ve had limited preparation for time trialling, it’s given me the confidence to go out there and give it everything I’ve got and just see how things unfold.”
The 2012 world’s course, which runs from Eijsden to Valkenberg features two significant climbs but Houvenaghel believes this could be to her benefit.
“Climbing is something that I’m good at and I feel that the rolling aspects between those two climbs will also work to my strengths in that it will allow someone like myself – I suppose a ‘power rider’ – to get into a good rhythm and get some good speed going. That’s something which I’m really keen to get involved with.”
A strong performance today won’t erase the pain of a few weeks ago but it might just ease it a little and show GB cycling what a world class athlete she is.
Looking ahead, after the worlds, Houvenaghel’s priorities are set to focus on ‘normal life’ after a hectic four years of Olympic, world cup and world championship preparations. She added, “I’ve got a big opportunity to see my family and friends so I’m making plans at the moment to ensure that I can take a step back from competition and lead a relatively normal life for a while and then reassess my options.”