By Bec “Wombat” Werner
Australian Loren Rowney is the newest member of super team Specialized Lululemeon, and will possibly prove to be the biggest steal they made. With all round ability and some impressive early season results; taking a stage of the Tour of New Zealand and the sprinters jersey to boot, plenty of teams will be kicking themselves for not snapping up this young gun earlier. Recently arriving in NorCal for her first American season, she proved that New Zealand was no fluke, and she’s more than ready to mix it up with top international fields, winning the opening road stage of the Redlands Cycling Classic. Now she’s back in the Australian and New Zealand cyclists’ home away from home of the Bay Area. We caught up with her during some down time before she attacks the next block of racing.
Congrats on a great start to your US campaign! Give us an idea of how you came to be in the US racing with Specialized Luluemon.
Very random, it was one of those moments where i was like “is this for real” for when I received the email from Kristy. It all came about based on my results from NRS last year, and I got to know the head coach (Martine Barras) of the AIS quite well, and he put my name forward.
How was team camp and what are the team dynamics like?
I had no idea what to expect, I was quite nervous and intimated, I mean going on team camp with the former HTC highroad girls is an experience most girls will never get, and here I was. However as soon as I was picked up from the airport by Evie (Evelyn Stevens) and Beth (Swanny), I knew the team, the whole experience was going to be something special. The dynamics of this team is incredible, until the gun goes at the start of the race, we’re pretty much joking around and laughing at one another.
Where in Australia do you come from and how does it compare to the Bay Area?
I’d say I’m a born and bred Gold Coaster, but that’s slightly skewed (born in SOuth Africa). The GC is similar and different to the Bay area. I absolutely love the fact you don’t have to travel far (just like home) to get into the hills, which is so beautiful.
I heard you got some Twitter kudos from another Gold Coast local in Robbie McEwen- Think there’s any chance he could become an off season training buddy??
HAHA! Yeah Robbie and I are pretty tight. As long as I’ve been riding, Robbie has been living on the Gold Coast, so he was the first professional cyclist I learnt anything about, and of course when I was 14 and at a club race I was star struck! Now, at 23 years of age, still a little star struck, but yeah on the weekly Tuesday bunchy I tag along sometimes when he’s home from Europe and try not to get dropped!
Anything strange or crazy that you’ve seen since coming to the US?
People wearing suits in a super market… “only in America”. Oh and four-way stop signs. What the hell?!
You had a great start to your NRS campaign with a win at the Beaumont Road Race at Redlands. How does US racing compare to the racing back in Australia?
I’ve found the racing to be far more aggressive than back home, and the fields are definitely bigger. I’d have to say the atmosphere is way better too, they really get into it.
What are your plans for the season?
I’m here till the beginning of August, and hopefully in that time I’ll travel to Europe and do some racing. My main goals for the coming months is to race really well for the team at Idaho and Philly. Those two races are probably the most prestigious and important events in terms of gaining final UCI points for the girls trying to make Olympic selection. So I just want to have great form, so I can support them.
With some of the results you’ve produced, surely the Australian team selectors are standing up and taking notice. Have you raced with, or have plans of racing with the national?
I’ve never raced with the National team, but of course for any Aussie it’s a dream to wear the green and gold jersey.
Definitely the green and gold of Australia? Yellow and green of South Africa isn’t so different…
Shhhhh, I’m a South African spy posing as an Australian
What did life involve before becoming a pro cyclist?
Well I was getting up at 4:30am to go training with my group almost every day, and then 3-4 days a week, I was studying Ecology and Conservation biology at Griffith University. So needless to say, my life was somewhat boring compared to the adventure I’m on now.
I think Steve Irwin was classified as a modern day Dundee haha. Yeah I guess you could say I fry up pretty good shrimp on the barbie. But seriously, I’m very passionate about wildlife and the environment, and post cycling, I’ll probably be living in the bush somewhere in the world.
You’re pretty tall as far as cyclists go. Why cycling? No basketball or volleyball?
Funny story, I tried basketball in grade 5…my first attempt at scoring a point I ran in the wrong direction and scored for the opposing team. I was a runner before cycling and I guess the transition was pretty natural once my brother started bike riding. I mean come on, who wouldn’t want to wear bright coloured lycra?
You’ve got a pretty gnarly scar on your arm there! Can you tell us the story behind that one? Shark attack? Kangaroo mauling?
Yeah, I forgot to mention I was a pro surfer before a cyclist, and I had an incident with a sand shark. It didn’t appreciate me running over its tail!
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