The criterium queen of the season, Kimberley Wells, was the national champion in 2013. Last year she had to skip the chance to defend her title because of pneumonia but she was back in Ballarat yesterday… and back to her winning ways. The 29-year-old doctor hit a peak power in the sprint of 1,196 watts but she believes the secret to her recent run of success comes from all that she’s learned from years of racing crits.


A second Australian criterium championship in three years for Kimberley Wells. Photo: Cycling Australia

A second Australian criterium championship in three years for Kimberley Wells.
Photo: Cycling Australia


RIDE caught up with Wells a day after her victory over Peta Mullins and Lauren Kitchen.

Click the link below to listen to the discussion and/or read the transcript to find out how she saw the race…




RIDE: I’m talking with Kimberley Wells who has just won her second national criterium championship and I thought we’d just find out how she’s feeling a day after the victory. It was about a five o’clock start, so a nice twilight run… was it?

Kimberley Wells: “Yeah, there was some storms rolling into Ballarat so it was a bit humid and it got a bit dark and even put the rain on us during the crit. But it was great. The streets were packed with people out having a good time.”


Was it the same course as when you won in 2013? 

“Yeah, the same course – which is a bit of a theme with the Australian nationals road race and crit – so I knew what it would take to try and win…”


Let’s just go through the line-up of help that you had… were you racing as ACT?

“Yeah, I raced for the ACT Academy of Sport and I did a lot of work on the track with ACTAS. But I only had one other rider in the race – Jessie McLean, who was riding for Orica-AIS – with me. So it was pretty hard.”


It was just the two of you – but two quality riders. Did Jess lead you out? Were you fortunate enough to have that predicament?

“That scenario didn’t play out. Jessie was instrumental in the earlier parts of the race just chasing a few things down and trying to let me cool my jets when a few moves went up the road.

“You don’t want to be responsible for chasing everything… so she was encouraging me to be patient.”


And ‘patient’ because it’s becoming obvious that your sprint is formidable. You seem to be winning everything that you’re starting in the last month or so…

“Yeah, some of my mates were saying that I won the trifecta of crits: I won the Noosa Crit, I won the Stan Siejka crit in Launceston and the St Kilda Super Crit… the three big crits coming into Christmas. It was pretty exciting.

“In 2013, I raced over in America for a team called Fearless Femmes. I did a lot of the criteriums over there and I learnt huge amounts about how to race them tactically and I bought that back to Australia… finally.”


And you still need a team-mate to remind you to stay calm…

“Ah, when the green and gold stripes are up for grabs, it’s a different race. And in the national championships often people don’t have big teams represented in the peloton so it changes the dynamics of what’s happening in the race… who you can or can’t rely on to chase, so you do have to race it in a bit of a different way. [It] does make it harder to be relaxed about certain scenarios playing out.”


Let’s talk about those closing laps. Whose wheel were you striving to be on or was it just a case of: be near the front and hope that you’ve got the right position?

“I wanted to be near the wheels of Gracie Elvin, Lauren Kitchen, Peta Mullins… those kinds of riders, because I know that they’ll want to go for the sprint. I know they’re strong for the sprint and that they’ll be good bike handlers through the corners.

“It would be pretty devastating in the last few laps – when you can’t get a lap out – to suffer a crash, so you want to reduce your risk of that kind of stuff.

“I was a bit further back along the back straight, just trying to let my legs refresh a little bit, but I knew I could make up lost ground before the bottom corner just with a quick surge.

“I can corner a lot faster than most of the peloton so I could make up ground and recover at the same time before we headed up the straight for the sprint.”


What’s your cornering speed come from? Is that: brake late, or you’re more fearless, or you’ve got a high bottom bracket… what’s your rationalisation for that?

“Um, I can just go a lot faster through the corners and not come off.

“I’ve done a lot of crits. I’ve done a lot of technical crits. I enjoy mountain biking sometimes at home so I’m happy to come flying into a corner and hold a much higher speed than a lot of people. I think that just comes with the experience of having done that a fair bit.”


Out of interest, what tyres do you ride?

“Specialized Turbo tyres. They’re grippy but still fast enough to sprint and they’re not so thin that a piece of glass will end your race.

“I actually brought a new pair two days before the crit. I didn’t want to leave things to chance and use old tyres.”


What comes next…?

“I didn’t do the time trial [today]. I’m not really a time trial specialist… but I’ve got the road race on Saturday and then I’m into the Santos Cup racing at the Tour Down Under and then the track nationals and then I’ll be representing Australia at the Tour of Qatar. There are lots of cool things coming up.”


What do you make of what’s going to happen on Saturday [in the national championship road race]? Give us a little prognostic. 

“Well it looks like it’s going to be a bit of a rain deluge but you’ve got the hot favourite Gracie Elvin coming into it being two-times national road champion, she’ll be pretty heavily marked. And her two Orica-AIS team-mates – Amanda Spratt who has won on that course before, and Lizzie Williams who also climbs well. Lauren Kitchen is also going to do well and Peta Mullins will be a big threat on that course. They’re some of the big contenders that everyone is going to need to watch.

“Ruth Corset has won there before and she’s an excellent rider for those conditions.”


Right. And Kimberley Wells? 

[Laughs] “Horses for courses. It doesn’t necessarily suit me going up Buninyong that many times – there’s a huge amount of climbing on that course. And it seems to get rid of a lot of the sprinters and that kind of thing.

“Me? I’ll guts it out and I’ll be as efficient as possible and hang in there as best I can but history will dictate that riders like me don’t usually make it to the finish in the first group.”


So you’ll take the triple-crown and the gold medal from the crit and see what comes…

“Yeah. Correct.”

– Interview by Rob Arnold


Photo: Cycling Australia

Photo: Cycling Australia