A year on from working as a podium assistant during the Tour Down Under, South Australian teenager Maeve Plouffe is making her debut as a competitor.
The 18-year-old cyclist said she was excited at the prospect of racing in the women’s event at this month’s TDU.
“The experience of being a stage assistant last year allowed me to meet and, for the first time, be around the women’s Pro riders in the peloton,” she said.
“As a young rider this was really inspiring and gave me the confidence to keep focusing on my goals.
“For me this is a race I have watched ever since I was a junior and it was something I have always aspired to do.”
A year ago, the TDU stopped using models during podium presentations and gave the roles to junior cycling champions, including Plouffe.
This year she will be among the youngest riders in the competition, racing as part of the Institute of Sport team from Tasmania, where just days ago she took out the prestigious Burnie Wheelrace.
“To be able to race at this level at home, in front of my family and friends, is an amazing opportunity,” she said.
“The past 12 months have seen me travel internationally and around Australia to compete.
“It is finally nice to be able to compete on the roads that I have trained on my whole life.”
SA Sport Minister Leon Bignell described the teenager as a shining example of why the Adelaide race organisers decided to replace podium girls with junior cyclists.
“Last year Maeve was one of our stage assistants and this year she’ll be out riding with the professionals. It’s a terrific result for Maeve and the Tour Down Under,” he said.
“Maeve is a fantastic local young gun of cycling and I’m sure the experience of seeing the race up close and personal last year will help to make some of the nerves and preparations which come with a professional race a little bit easier.”
He said he hoped other cycling events around the world would follow South Australia’s lead on podium presentation changes.
The Italians have ruled out such a change but the Spanish say they are prepared to consider it.