PRO SERIES: End of season recap

This time last year I was heading into a full CX season and about to move to Belgium, having just left the British Cycling MTB XC Team. Now, I’ve just signed my first pro contract and am looking ahead to a winter of prep for the 2020 road season. A LOT has happened in the space of year, so I’m going to fill you in 😊.

I’ve just completed my first full road season and it’s been an absolute whirlwind. Riding with Brother UK Tifosi has been incredible. We won the overall team/individual prize in the National series, conquered the Tour series and made our mark on huge races such as the Tour de Yorkshire – not bad for a club team ?!

Photo: Simon Blackwell

The start

My season began in Cyprus at the Aphrodite Women's race, a savage hack up and down a mountain followed by a week of food poisoning while on a ‘training camp’. Ha. Not the best start to the year. After this I raced the first National series, Klondike, where the team showed its initial signs of dominance, with 5 of us placing in the top 15. Following this race we competed in Brabantse Pijl – my first ‘classic’ and I loved it. This race holds a lot of significance for me within the season, as I realised that these types of races are exactly what I want to do.

Next up was Tour de Yorkshire – the most savage experience on a bike in 2019. I loved this race and performed way better than I ever imagined. Finishing stage 2 in the peloton and sprinting to 36th is still one of my high points of this season, when initially my aim was to ‘get round’.

We continued our team dominance in National series races: Lincoln GP, Cicle Classic and Tour of Res. During this period I also went to France and had a 2 week training camp with Anna Kay at Helen Wyman’s house (British national cyclo-cross champion on repeat), I not only trained well; I also discovered my love for Peaky Blinders here (another VERY significant part of my 2019 season hehe).

After such a smooth first half of the season I experienced my first bit of ‘bad luck’ in a Lotto Cup in June. With 3 km to go, our leader, Anna Henderson, crashed and I came down with her. After chasing back on, I then crashed again with 1.5 km to go. Although it was gutting, I came off lightly compared to some although I’m still suffering with soft tissue damage in my little finger now… sounds pathetic hand shakes still hurt!

National TT champs and National Champs were a lot of fun. After starting to ride/train on a TT bike only a month before, I was over the moon to get 6th U23. I was also 6th U23, 11th elite in the Road race. It was incredible to see my best mate and team mate Anna take the win in both the U23 TT and road race, as well as see my good friend Alice Barnes win the Elites.

The middle

Following the Nationals, I got stuck into a couple of stage races. I raced Krasna Lipa stage race in the Czech Republic. I had good legs here but not good luck. I had my most gutting moment of the season here on Stage 1… sat in 4th wheel with 500m to go I get crashed into which ripped all my spokes out. I was devastated. I rang my Dad in floods of tears – sometimes putting things in perspective is hard when you’re in touching distance of a career best result. The rest of the stage race followed suit; bad luck/crashes sum it up pretty well. Despite this, I loved the attritional Czech terrain and would love to return again.

I raced Crit champs (got 11th) and then headed to Belgium for a Kermess block. This wasn’t a good time for me – I started to fall ill but as I had invested so much of my own money into the trip I refused to accept it and not to race. This (obviously) didn’t bode well for me. Straight after this trip I headed to the Tour de Belle Isles with the team. Knackered from Belgium, I couldn’t keep up on stage 1 and DNF.

As you’re probably sensing this mid part of the season following National was difficult for me. I was upset because I knew what I was capable of but it wasn’t coming together in races.

The end

I took a couple of days off and a few weeks off racing to mentally refresh before the end of the season, I also had to make the tricky decision to miss Tour of Scotland. But following this mini-break I came back feeling strong again, my morale was back!

I guested for French team UVCA Troyes in 2 UCI 1.2 French races. The first race was La Perigord ladies, I finished 20th after a savage race with some top riders in – this was a huge relief after the last few races. Between this and the next race I had my family holiday in the Dordogne. I trained and rested well and felt well prepared and motivated for my final race of the season in Poitiers, La Picto-Charentaise. Sure enough, it finally came together and I sprinted to 2nd in the bunch and 7th in the race. My best result of the season in my final race and my first lot of UCI points!

So that’s my round up of this year. I’ve learned so much but my biggest take away is happy head = fast legs. As the 2019 season ends, so does my journey with Brother UK Tifosi. I have a lot to thank everyone in this team for because they helped me make the step into racing my first proper road season, and believed in my abilities even when I didn’t.

The future

I’m delighted to announce I’ve signed with Dutch u23 development team, Rogelli Gyproc for the next 2 seasons. This opportunity was unexpected and I really can’t wait to get stuck in. But first, I have some hard grafting to get done this winter…

Thank you to everyone who continues to support me, it means so much.

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