We caught up with Joanna Rowsell Shand at the launch of the new GB team kit produced by adidas and British Cycling who are celebrating 10 years of working together. The kit will be worn by the Great Britain Cycling Team as they continue their preparations for Rio 2016.
The run up to Rio
With only a year to go to the 2016 Rio Olympics Joanna comments that training will really ‘ramp up now’ It’s getting very exciting and is suddenly all becoming very real.
’ 2016 ‘seems’ a long way away for a long time but once you can start counting down the days from 365 if you do miss a day of training it feels like a big deal.
With the European Championships in October and the World Championships in March, there are some big competitions just around the corner.
Joanna says her focus is to try not to make the World Championships a bigger deal than the Olympics because they are at home; ‘I think the Aussie’s may have made that mistake back in 2012 with the World Championships held in Melbourne that year and may have perhaps peaked too soon … I think it’s important to prioritise the Olympics. Whilst I would like to win every bike race I ride between now and Rio, if I could only pick one, I would win Rio!’
With Rio in mind, we asked Joanna how she manages the risk of injury associated with road racing when track is her number one focus. Where road racing is great training, especially crit racing, it is also one of the most dangerous disciplines. Joanna explains that she has done quite a lot of racing this year knowing that if she were to crash and break anything ‘it wouldn't be the end of the world as there’s more than a year to go’ but as Rio draws closer Joanna predicts she will only race the early part of the upcoming season.
Joanna will work closely with her coach to plan out which races she will focus on, looking at where she will gain the most benefit with the minimum amount of risk. She tells TWC that you can have accidents at any time, you can slip on the corner when out on a training ride, or even fall when walking along the pavement, so ‘you can’t wrap yourself in cotton wool’. Instead Joanna will work closely with her coach to work out exactly what she needs and when to plan the year ahead.
She goes on to say that the closer she gets to Rio there will be less racing and that the training volume will go down but the intensity will go up. Once in Rio she can’t imagine there will be much, if any road riding. ‘Back in London we didn't do any road riding once we arrived in the Olympic village’ instead they used the track itself to train as well as using turbo trainers and rollers. At that stage the main priority is the intensity and keeping the ‘speed and the sharpness there’.
On the new kit, Joanna agreed with technical director of cycling, Shane Sutton who said that most people tend to focus on making the bike lighter, but ‘your body is the biggest thing hitting the wind’ so focussing on the technical aspects of the kit is of great importance.
‘I was really pleased with the kit that we had in London and I'm really pleased with the kit we have got now’.
Ever improving, Joanna is confident the new kit will be even better.
Not in the line-up for the Prudential Ride London Grand Prix this year, Joanna tells us that this is her week off now so she didn't want to race but instead took part in the Prudential Ride London Surrey 100 along-side her new husband. ‘He used to be a bike rider but does very little bike riding now so it’s going to be at a leisurely pace.’
Ahead of Ride London Joanna said she was looking forward to enjoying the scenery and chatting to other participants whilst cycling around the closed roads of London. Joanna recalls that a number of people have suggested they will sit on her back wheel, she laughs; ‘they can sit there all they like but I wont be going very fast’, similarly, ‘If people want to race me they can, but I wont be racing … Normally I would be but you have got to have a bit of balance I think’.
We look forward to hearing more updates from Joanna and her team as we start to count down to Rio 2016!