Australian elite rider Shane Rosa has flown under the radar in 2018 – save for almost delivering a maiden elite men’s national title in Bunbury in March – and that’s just the way he likes it.
The South Australian native has made wholesale changes to his preparation, mental approach to BMX and his training location in the past seven months. Where he once called SA home and his training base, from November 2017 he has spent time in Europe and the USA in pursuit of improved international results.
For Rosa, who’s top achievement on the international stage is victory in the junior men’s time trial at the 2015 UCI BMX World Championships (Zolder, Belgium), 2018 has represented an opportunity to break away from his norm.
“I have switched up my training this year. I have been training with new riders and a new group of people in Europe this year,” Rosa said.
“We’ve taken a spin on what I’ve done in recent years and changed the way I train and think about training to what I have done in previous years. I have done some more endurance stuff, so I can hang out for the longer days of racing.
“I came into more spin work just prior to nationals and to get prepared for the bigger events this year.”
But saying you have moved overseas, and that you’re changing up your training is something that has been heard time and time again from athletes. The mantra of a change being as good as a holiday is always alive and kicking.
The name Rosa may not be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Willoughby, Dean or Madill, who have been star athletes in recent years. Rosa does not have an Australian elite title, world cup podium nor major senior elite world championship result on his resume either.
It’s for that reason that he’s taken the plunge on foreign shores.
Since November Rosa has spent time in Germany, Spain, America and then back to Germany. He even skipped Christmas, a clear indicator that he has the best intentions to make a fistful of this BMX caper.
“Eventually I thought to myself ‘stuff it’,” Rosa recounted.
“I need to give this (BMX) the best go I can, I need to give it a proper crack. Especially with world cup and world championship events this year, and the 2020 Tokyo Games down the track.
“I’m looking forward to what I think I can achieve. I think I am good enough to put myself in the mix for the Australian team for Tokyo.”
To make such a firm commitment to this new direction in his professional career, Rosa has called on all the resources he has at his disposal.
“I have some good friends who have been asking me to train with them overseas for some time now. So, when everyone else went to the world championships in Rock Hill last year, I went to China and did a job. Some big thanks go to Wade Bootes who helped set that up for me.
“Then I saved up all the money I had and booked a plane ticket to Europe. My friends there have looked after me quite well, they’re a great group of people.”
But like in any sport, the best intentions don’t guarantee results.
Since placing second by the smallest margin to Victorian Brandon Te Hiko in the national championships final in March, Rosa’s international results haven’t lived up to his wholehearted dedication to his trade.
In round one of the UCI BMX Supercross World Cup in Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines, France Rosa finished 80th. He improved to 56thin the second round and then was 103rdin the ultra-tough round three in Papendal, Netherlands the weekend just past.
Displaying just how tough and fickle the competition in the elite men’s event is, that 103rdimproved to 33rdin round four the next day. It put him one spot ahead of Olympic champion Connor Fields of the USA, and one spot behind Frenchman Romain Mahieu who finished second in both rounds one and two of this year’s world cup series.
BMX is one of the toughest, most uncompromising sports on the planet. Rosa knows that. Even if he doesn’t find himself on the gate in Tokyo in a little over two years’ time, he will have left everything on the table.
“My thoughts are that I need to give it a go, and if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, I will come back home,” he concluded.
There’s something to be said about an athlete who’s not backwards in coming forwards about announcing the goals they would like to achieve.
PIC CREDIT: Energy Images/Dale Watson