Ali Shanks succeeded in her rise to the top in 2009 becoming World Champion in the 3000m individual pursuit after placing an impressive fourth in Beijing 2008. The star Dunedin cyclist remains as grounded as ever and looks to more success in the future. Cyclingnz.com's Sam Allan brings you this exclusive interview.
Q Ali - It has been a meteoric rise to the top of the world for you in the short time you have been cycle racing. Where do you see the pinnacle?
A Obviously World Champs was a pretty massive pinnacle, but I think there’s more speed yet to come, so hopefully with that will come some more pinnacles in the future.
Q This season has been incredible for you, after placing 4th in the Olympics less than a year ago, you now sit on top of the world, what do you see as the major contributor to this brilliant level you now sit at?
A I think pursuiting isn’t about doing one thing really well it’s about doing a number of things with extreme precision. So to go fast you need the whole package; the physical aspect, technical skill, equipment, and support around you. All of this combined has produced the results over the past year.
Q Technology obviously plays an integral role in your discipline where races can be won or lost on hundredths of a second. How are you keeping up with the rapid rate of evolution in equipment on both the body and the machine?
A There is little complacency among the team – Craig and I are always searching for way to go faster, whether it is physical or technical. This mentality is a contributing factor why I have seen so many PB’s in my career. I terms of ‘machine’; we have always said we want to step out on the start line with the fastest equipment possible, and we are lucky that right here in New Zealand we have such innovative and driven people that are able to produce this equipment to take on the world.
Q Last year saw you compete in a solid regime of road racing abroad, are there any plans now the pressure end of the Track season is finished to get back on the geared bike?
A For sure, I do the majority of my training on my roady and the plan is to head back to America in a month or so and get into some racing along with some scheduled training blocks.
Q With being the world champion against the watch on the track can you foresee turning this performance into a world title in the ITT?
A While there are similarities in the pursuit and time trial event; it’s you against the clock, the differences at the elite level become amplified and it’s a challenge to compete in both at the same time. In saying that there are physical cross-overs and the World ITT Championships later this year could be a realistic interim goal for me before next track season kicks off.
Q Being the world champion and the build up toward it must take a huge amount of discipline, to go along with the bountiful talent. Can you give our readers an insight into what a typical week involves for Ali Shank’s?
A I guess that’s what I love about cycling is that no two weeks are the same. It really depends on the phase I’m in.
But a general week:
~ 400km – 500km / week
Including 2 – 3 interval and Erg based sessions
( eg: 4 x 8min or 5x5min or 10 x 1min on 1min off)
2 – 3 Gym sessions – strength endurance weights and plyometrics
Massage 1 – 2 x week
Q What advice do you have for any of the young guns in NZ cycling hoping to make it on the world stage?
A Have a dream and believe in yourself. Do something everyday to take you a step closer to making your dream a reality. Little things that you do everyday will one day make up the big picture.
Q Of the next generation who do you see as exciting prospects and making it to the top echelon?
A There are so many kids out there involved in NZ track cycling, and the ILT indoor Velodrome has helped boost the quality of NZ cycling. Those that will make it to the top are the ones that are dedicated, disciplined and motivated to achieve as the talent is out there.
Now our favorite part.
11 on road, 12 on track
Biggest chainring you own?
Depends on which phase of training I’m in
Teriyaki Chicken Curry on Rice from Tokyo House, Dunedin
Silver Back Bruce
Mt Cargill - Baritone loop in Dunedin
Favorite training buddy?
Favorite thing about cycling?
I love the continual challenge to get faster, and the control I have over my own destiny. I love the people involved in the sport – fun, motivated and driven to succeed; it’s inspirational to be immersed in.
Contributing sponsors Ali would like to thank.
Name: Mizone Rapid
Name: Dunedin City Mazda
Name Classic Hits