BENDIGO cycling young gun Alessia McCaig is readying for the biggest challenge of her blossoming career on foreign soil.
The 16-year-old will make both her overseas debut at the Oceania Track Championships in Invercargill, New Zealand, next week.
McCaig, who set a pair of national records at this year's Junior Track National Track Championships in Brisbane, will also be stepping up to the senior ranks for the first time.
The Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) scholarship holder admitted she was a bit more nervous than usual as she prepared to take on the best riders from across eight other nations.
"I haven't had a lot of preparation ... I only decided I was going to go to New Zealand about eight weeks ago," she said.
"I'm quite nervous coming up against the senior riders, but the competition is going to be great.
"Obviously, it's the first race of the season for me in seniors and my first race internationally. I don't have a lot of expectations.
"Basically I want to go over there and learn a lot and have some fun with the VIS and gain some more experience for next year."
A busy schedule in Invercargill will see McCaig line up in the sprint, team sprint, keirin and time trial.
The trip to New Zealand is the first stop on the way to potential selection for next year's open nationals for the Girton Grammar student.
The nationals will be contested next March in Brisbane.
McCaig has dominated the junior ranks like few others before her over the past two years.
She picked up four gold medals and one bronze at this year's nationals and was crowned champion of champions for the second-straight year.
McCaig set new Australian records in the under-17 women's 500m team sprint (with Caulfield-Carnegie's Lucie Stewart) and the 200m flying.
It followed a four gold medal haul and two silver at the previous year's championships in Melbourne.
On her return from New Zealand, McCaig will start preparations for the prestigious Austral Wheelrace Carnival in December.
It's a carnival she has had much success in, with back-to-back wins in 2017-18 in the women's under-17 wheelrace.
McCaig joined the VIS in June and has clearly relished the access to advanced coaching, sports science and sports medicine services, and career advice.
"The support that they give is just incredible and the coaching is top of the range," she said.
An exciting few weeks for McCaig has included a gold medal win in the level-five intermediate pairs at the AeroSchools National Championships in Brisbane, with pairs partner Ruby Conti.
The Oceania Track Championships run from October 16-19 and involve riders from Australia, New Zealand, Guam, Fiji, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Tahiti, Northern Mariana Islands and New Caledonia.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.