Monee Ponds resident, Kendelle Hodges has continued her rise in cycling, finishing fifth in the women’s road race at the National Championships in Buninyong on Saturday. The 23-year old won the bunch sprint for fifth over a minute down on the winner, fellow Victorian Peta Mullens. For Hodges it was a huge surprise to finish fifth after a difficult season last year with a broken collarbone.

I really surprised myself, it was a different race to previous years because of the cooler conditions and I was really pleased with my result. I never expected this.” says a delighted Hodges. “I am not the strongest climber on our team and I so wanted to get in a break if one developed to allow my teammates to go with the climbers later in the race. I was really happy to finish in the front bunch this year. “

With Tessa Fabry (4th) and Sam de Riter (7th) three girls of the new High5 Dream Team finished in the top 10 in the National Road Race Championship. Riding for the Victorian Institute of Sports at Nationals, the team seems to go into the new NRS season with some good form. But what is the secret to that early success?

We all had great results in the end and can be attributed to Donna’s (Donna Rae-Szalinski) ongoing support and work with us. I think as individuals we are all striving for success this year and that is bringing out the best in us.”

Hodges will be part of the High5 Dream Team that will start the NRS season this weekend in the Santos Women’s Tour in Adelaide together with Australian Criterium Champion Kimberley Wells, Rebecca Wiasak, Jessica Mundy and Georgia Baker. The team of manager Rochelle Gilmore and sports-director Donna Rae-Szalinski has definitely one of the stronger teams in the race and a chance to achieve some great results.

I can’t wait to race in Adelaide. I have never been to the TDU so I am looking forward to the opportunity to race there. We have Kimberley Wells the newly crowned national Criterium champion in our team along with girls like Rebecca Wiasak and Georgia baker coming of the back of track so the races should suit our team with two criteriums in the series. It would be fantastic if we could get a win at our first race as a team. “

After the Santos Women’s Cup Hodges will have a very busy schedule with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and the Ladies Tour of Qatar with the Australian National Team. Last year’s period overseas didn’t go as planned for Hodges due to a training crash.

“Last year my trip ended early when I broke my collarbone in a training crash. I enjoyed every moment while I was away racing and I can hopefully race more in Europe again this year. I have heard many stories about the racing in Qatar. Particularly the windy conditions and I am looking forward to experiencing this myself. It will be like nothing I have raced before and it will be a challenge but hopefully I can gain a lot from the experience.”

For me I want to take any opportunity I can in the race. I want to have a successful year on the bike and it would be great to start it of with some good races at the TDU and Cadel’s race.”