Alyssa Polites: How sibling rivalry sparked my cycling journey

Hi, my name is Alyssa Polites! I’m 19 years old and I’ve been racing for an Aussie women’s team Sydney Uni Staminade for the past three seasons. I’m juggling a double degree in sports science and business while riding my bike both on the road and in the velodrome. 

I first started racing at the age of 12 with Caulfield Carnegie Cycling Club in Melbourne. It was out of sibling rivalry, really – with inspiration from my father, of course.  

My brother was gifted his first road bike and I was so jealous. I decided to follow along and show an interest just to get a new bike with fancy bars of my own. And I’ve been racing ever since! 

Now I’m lucky to be part of the High-Performance Unit of the Australian Institute of Sport in Adelaide, where I’m pursuing track and road cycling under the Podium Potential Academy’s endurance programme. Bit of a mouthful to say, right? But I’m enjoying every second of the experience so far. 

Just last month, the Australian women’s peloton had the amazing opportunity to race the Santos Festival of Cycling – including the amended Tour Down Under – off the back of Federation University Road Nationals. It was also the first time we got to show off our awesome new dhb kit. 

Our super team were fortunate to come away with some hardware from the nationals, myself included. I won the under-23 road race title after rolling in third across the line in the elite women’s category, which was quite unexpected but a nice way to come out of such a stale period of constant lockdowns and lack of racing in Victoria! 

A huge kudos must go out to my former Sydney Uni Staminade (SUS) team-mate Nicole Frain, who won the elite women’s road race title. She made such a gutsy, spur-of-the-moment move and it paid off. A move that certainly may impress the likes of some World Tour teams! 

Covid meant I unfortunately missed out on two years of representing Australia in both the track and road junior worlds. However, our group of juniors were kindly gifted the opportunity to race alongside Grace Brown in the Tour Down Under in the green and gold of Team Garmin Australia! 

Grace was so down to earth and humble. I definitely learnt a lot from her during the tour and would love to follow in her footsteps and ride on the World Tour one day. And maybe go to the Olympics or become a world champion, too.  

For now, though, it’s back to the books and training. I’m back riding again after a little tumble on a gravel section of the Tour Down Under. I’ve had some stitches in my knee, but I’m rolling again and building towards Tour of Gippsland, from February 13-15, with SUS. 

I’m so excited to update you on my journey throughout this year in this dhb diary. I’m hoping there will be lots more stories to tell and fingers crossed the pandemic won’t impede on what is looking to be a full calendar for me! 

Happy riding, Alyssa