Rochelle Gilmore: A cut above the rest
- by Rowena Scott
- Published: 26 August 2010
“I think about winning and beating the person next to me” – Rochelle Gilmore.
The list of medals alongside Rochelle Gilmore’s name is extensive; she has silver medals from the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006 (Track). Now, she really wants gold.
Rochelle is a focused cyclist and strategically plans each race to achieve goals that most of us would think impossible, she doesn’t drink coffee and never touches alcohol, and she admits freely that if she were not a cyclist she would be rich. Gilmore’s attitude, and the way she describes herself is what I would expect from a pure sprinter, she is her own judge, jury and executioner.
Gilmore is the team manager for the Honda Dream Team and the Lotto Ladies Team as well as being a cyclist for both teams. Along with training, racing and leading two successful teams Gilmore has found the time to develop her own clothing label (RMGsport). There are certainly not enough hours in the day for this young woman; there is no sign of her slowing or stopping either and why would she? She’s not even thirty years old.
Rochelle Gilmore discusses racing and crashing in the 2010 Giro d’Italia, the decision to race the 2010 Commonwealth Games over the 2010 World Championships and her desire to win gold with Rowena Scott for Bicycles Network Australia (BNA).
BNA: You’re incredibly good at winning; you’re a three time World Cup medallist, you have two world championship silver medals on the track, your a Commonwealth Games medallist twice, two time stage winner at the Giro d’Italia, a route de France stage winner and you have many other accolades to your name. What’s the next goal?
Gilmore: My next goal is the Commonwealth Games Road Race on the 10th of October- the goal is to win. I have silver medals from Manchester 2002, and Melbourne 2006 (track) and to be honest, I really won’t be happy with another silver medal. It’s a mental game, it’s dangerous to want it too much but as the event draws closer- my desire to win get’s stronger.
BNA: Do you have one race that stands out as being your best win? Can you describe the emotion for us?
Gilmore: My best win was the Road World Cup in Geelong, 2005. My coach- Warren McDonald and my Step Father- David Dicker were both there, they are two of my biggest supporters and they directly contribute to my success. They really believe in me, sometimes more than I do in myself! It was a feeling of ‘proof’ if that makes sense?
The previous year at the same race I believed that I could win with 500m to go but unfortunately I pulled my foot out of my pedal during the sprint (finishing 5th) and I had to wait one year to prove that I could win on that circuit with that particular finish! I couldn’t make excuses out loud but I knew that it was the perfect race and finish for me, so I endured one year waiting to prove it. Winning in 2005 was a feeling of satisfaction that I’d achieved something I believed I could do, it was a feeling of gratefulness for the time, effort and belief that Wazza and David had put into me. It was a feeling of proof that I had a future as a road rider after years of focusing on the track.
BNA: You’ve chosen the Commonwealth Games over the World Championships, what made you make that choice?
Gilmore: My choice was based on the desire to win. The Commonwealth Games circuit is specifically suited to a road sprinter. I am a pure road sprinter. Winning the Commonwealth Games will require a very particular preparation in order to be powerful on the flat.
The reason I decided to continue with my pure power sprinting preparation is simple; the Commonwealth Games in 2010 are dead flat, the World Championships in 2011 are relatively flat and?. The Olympics in 2012 are also on a sprinters city circuit. I’m excited. Comm Games, Worlds then Olympics- all circuits are favourable to the sprinters.
BNA: You crashed heavily in stage two of the Giro d’Italia, how does it feel to pull out of a race even though you have pushed yourself through more stages than you thought you would, do you feel as though you’re letting the team down?
Gilmore: I can’t say I’ve ever felt like I’ve let the team down because I always give everything I can on the day and they know that’s as much as I can give. It’s very common for athletes to be able to get more out of themselves when they are working for the team, rather than for themselves. It’s a very satisfying feeling because without the fear of personal failure and with the desire to contribute to success- your body can reach new limits. If I could have continued at the Giro I would have. I couldn’t even dress myself or brush my own hair, I could barely walk but for some reason I thought I could finish the Giro d’Italia? it wasn’t possible this time.
BNA: How did you end up managing both the Honda Dream Team and the Lotto Ladies?
RG: It was my desire to offer women including myself a pleasant working environment that saw me get so involved in team management. My motivation to obtain sponsors and funding in order to build these teams resulted in what are now the Honda Dream Team and Lotto Ladies Team- sponsored by Honda. I think/hope all the riders of the HDT and LLT have been satisfied with the treatment and respect they have received as professional female cyclists.
BNA: How did Honda come on board, how supportive have they been?
Gilmore: At the end of 2009 I returned to Australia early to participate in an event which was sponsored by Honda – the Honda Hybrid Women’s Tour in Victoria. On the flight back to Australia I drafted a strategy in order to get Honda interested in starting a woman’s cycling team.
My strategy and approach was very detailed and my motivation to impress Honda was high. My strategy first involved winning the Honda Hybrid Women’s tour with a strong and professional team. I entered this race as Team HP (sponsored by HP) and selected a couple of very talented and promotable women to represent Team HP and win the event. We did a little PR training together before the event- we won and we impressed Honda on and off the bike. It was only days later when I started negotiations with Honda, working towards the launch of the Honda Dream Team in December.
Honda’s support in cycling- specifically women’s cycling has been amazing! It really is what women’s cycling needed. There are a few guys on the board at Honda who put a lot of faith into this somewhat new marketing strategy (for Honda) and we will be forever grateful to those guys! Honda reported that they received over $2million worth of exposure last season so fortunately we’ve proved that it was a profitable decision and it- the Honda Dream Team has been a huge success.
BNA: You’re a world class cyclist who manages two teams and your own clothing label (RMGsports) where do you find the time and the energy?
Gilmore: I don’t find enough time! I’m always trying to get on top of things. I manage to work with energy and enthusiasm because I do get a lot of satisfaction out of finalizing plans, bookings, contracts etc? I thrive on the work until I physically crack, then I close my computer and have a nap or watch a DVD.
BNA: How do you reach your goals? Do you plan out the process?
Gilmore: I’m a big planner, in cycling and in business- I like to have a clear goal, make a plan and then work towards it.
BNA: Does confidence come easily to you or is it something that you’ve had to work on over the years?
Gilmore: Confidence on the bike doesn’t come easily to me; confidence in life off the bike comes naturally. Confidence on the bike is my weakness. I’m generally a very confident person in life off the bike but when it comes to the end of a race I will too often doubt myself. It’s something I’ve worked on with the AIS psychologists for years and we’re starting to make real progress? I’ve pulled off some great wins in my career so there are evidently times when my confidence is high- or high enough!
BNA: Any advice out there for women who are wanting to race for the first time?
Gilmore: Don’t be intimidated. I will let you in on a secret; when we pro women are out on a Sunday bunch ride and you casual female cyclists are puffing and panting on the climbs it would appear that we’re not hurting- that’s not the case, we’re just trained to hide our pain and suffering! The difference in our fitness levels is often not that much- so come along and have a race- I’m sure you’ll be surprised.
BNA: You don’t have a lot of down time, when it does happen, how do you handle that time? Do you find it boring? Does it affect your racing?
Gilmore: I’ve never been bored. I’ve always been a VERY busy person. I’m the type of person who will never be satisfied with only 24hrs in a day. There is always something more to do. When I was younger I couldn’t sit still, I never watched television or read books. If I wasn’t eating or sleeping I was on the move. These days I keep myself busy with organizing/running the Lotto Ladies Team and the Honda Dream Team. I’m at the point now, like most business owners where I have to set specific shut down times of an evening and leave the long list of things to do until the next day. I try not to work after dinner and my ambition is to get to bed early (9pm) and watch a movie before falling asleep.
Cycling is still my priority so training, post training naps, nutrition and stretching always comes before opening the computer to start work. I’d be lying if I said the mental stress has never affected my racing- I hate to admit it. I do enjoy having a heavy workload and I want to be able to say it doesn’t affect my racing. As I become more experienced in business and dealing with people, I hope to be more efficient and relaxed, and as a result- perform better on and off the bike.
BNA: You have an interest in mechanics, is it something you enjoy doing and would you consider it a sort of meditation period when you’re not on the bike? Is it a good past time for when you’re injured?
Gilmore: Whether I am injured or not I’m always looking at my bike. As athletes we maintain our bodies with extreme attention to the smallest details- why not do the same with our bikes? I can’t really understand women who race at the highest level and don’t pay attention to their bike, even if only on the morning of an event. Perhaps they have 100% faith in their mechanic but some women I race with won’t even know what tyres they’re racing on, or what pressure they’re at, or what gear ratio they’re running etc? I always check my wheels have been placed straight in my bike so the brakes are not rubbing, I always check the air pressure and I always check my gears before the start. It’s in my blood. I treat my bike like I treat my body? I try to keep them finely tuned.
BNA: How would your family describe you?
Selfish to my loved ones.
Too generous to my friends and business associates.
Too hard on myself.
BNA: How would you describe your personality?
Gilmore: Serious unless I’m around VERY close family and friends- then I can be quite relaxed and playful. Ambitious and focused. I’m very direct and don’t fear to say what I feel/think. I feel too much for those who are close to me to the point where I let my emotions get out of control, although I can be very insensitive toward those who I don’t know.
BNA: Where does your motivation come from?
Gilmore: Self satisfaction. The desire to be as successful as those in my family, being surrounded by success and expectations motivates me as well as the slight fear of failure.
Bicycles Network Australia would like to extend its thanks to Rochelle Gilmore for her time, we wish her gold medals for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the World Cup in 2011 and the London Olympics in 2012.