It wasn't the exact colour she was hoping for but Pip Ash is hoping her National Road Championships silver medal will serve as a good springboard as she prepares for some exciting racing ahead.
The Tamworth cyclist has received an invitation to race in this month's Tour Down Under.
It will be her first time riding in the iconic race, which will be held later this month as part of the nine-day Santos Festival of Cycling.
"The opportunity to race the TDU doesn't really come around too often," Ash said.
"I'm really excited for that opportunity."
She has been offered one of the few individual slots.
"Because Dhuez (who she rides for) is not an NRS (National Road Series) registered team we don't get invited to these big races," she explained.
"I'd sort of put the feelers out there to a couple of other teams five or six week ago."
"A few people said they'd keep me in mind.
"[But] Everyone had a full roster as expected."
The only other shot then was an individual ride.
She was down in Scone with fiancée Sam Hill's family over Christmas and actually out for a ride when she got the phone call from the organisers.
Hill will also race in the TDU and when The Leader spoke with Ash, they were getting ready to make their way across from Ballarat to Adelaide.
"We'll settle in there for the week and try and do some recon on some of the stages," she said.
Reflecting on her nationals campaign, Ash was a bit disappointed but happy to walk away with a podium finish, winning silver in the women's masters 1 criterium.
She had gone in "looking to get the green and gold [winners jersey]", but was caught out by an early attack.
"I've raced the woman that won quite a few times, I know she's a very attacking style of rider.
"I knew she'd attack. I just didn't expect her to attack from the start," she said.
Unfortunately she couldn't find anyone to work with her and bring her back.
Ash then backed up in the elite women's road race on Sunday but was pulled out by the commissaires with three laps remaining after the group she was in fell back more than 10 minutes behind the lead group.
It was "disappointing"; she'd had her heart set on finishing.
"I felt fit enough and felt I had the legs," she said.
"Probably just inexperience at that level of racing was what cost me in the end."
"I started on the start line not in a good position."
That was compounded when there were a few crashes on the first lap, which she then had to try and dodge.
"They say that's racing and you learn from it," she said.
"Hopefully I can take some of that into the TDU."
Sam Jenner was the best-placed of the region's contingent in the road races, the Armidale product finishing 20th in what was a brutal elite men's race with only 21 of the 93 starters finishing.
He was earlier in the championships 14th in the criterium.
Hill, fellow Tamworth cyclists Luke Deasey and Isla Maidment, Armidale siblings Michael and Holly Harris and Inverell's Brent Rees also tackled the nationals.
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