Podium Ambition - Sports Tours Pro Cycling Team’s sister Cycling Club, Boot Out Breast Cancer, is now open for you to join.
Membership costs just £15 a year, and for that you’ll become a part of the Podium Ambition umbrella family, able to represent them at any events you choose to take part in.
We met the club’s ambassador riders, those selected as part of the Podium Ambition scholarship scheme, as well as Team Manager and eleven time Paralympic Gold medal holder Dame Sarah Storey at the club launch last night.
At the event, the club colours, represented by the pink and blue hues on its ambassadors Estrella bikes, and merchandise (buy stem caps here!) where revealed, whilst Dame Sarah Storey spoke to an audience about her ambitions for the future.
She said: "It was important to me to create a community of people. One of the things we used to have in swimming [Dame Sarah's first sport], was that when you stood on a start block, ready to start your race, you weren't just representing your country, you were representing the club that you belonged to back home. In cycling when you get to a certain level, you go and join a team, and that team is relatively exclusive, you have to have certain race results in order to be allowed to be part of it. It struck Barney [her husband] and I that we had an opportunity to bring the best of those two worlds together and this is what Podium Ambition and the Boot Out Breast Cancer Cycling Club hope to achieve."
She added: "We want to create an organisation and a community, so that when the very top of that tree stand on the start line, clipped into the gate at a track event, or on the start ramp of the time trial at an international event, or even just down the road at a local time trial - we might stand there in an international jersey, but we're also representing a huge community of people who are part of our support network back home.
"It might be that when I stand on the start line in Rio, I'm not just thinking about the job in hand, but I know I've not just got the country behind me, but I've got this incredibly special group of people who have been part of the journey from now all the way through to that start. When we come home from an event, it may be that we come home to a big party as a result!"
The club is open to anyone, of any level of ability, age and gender. It can be a pathway for young athletes or a cycling family for those riding for fun.
The club will host social rides during the year, and hope to organise mass attendance at specific events such as time trials local to their Manchester base.
Though there’s no obligation to race, there will certainly be support if you do wish to take your riding further, and the club can help you to find a suitable coach.
Funds will go to organise club events, support the pro team, and to the charity Boot Out Breast Cancer – one close to Dame Storey’s heart after her mum battled the disease in 2004 and 2005. Equally open to men as to women, the club is keen to raise awareness around the fact that men can also suffer breast cancer.
Riding under the same team name will be six scholarship riders - three over and three under 23. They’ll receive bikes from Estella bikes as well as clothing and equipment and elite level guidance.
We chatted to scholarship rider Nikola Matthews, who started riding a bike when she was around 27 and took up racing aged 30. She said: “It’s always really good to be able to put something back. [The Club] is about encouraging women to get into cycling - for fun or racing. I see more and more women out and about now, and anything we can do to be role models is good."
She added: “Some cycling clubs and groups can seem a bit cliquey – they might laugh if your socks aren’t the right height - but it doesn’t need to be like that, and we certainly won’t be like that."
Matthews got into racing when British Cycling organised a women’s skills session near her – she said: “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that session, road racing to me looked like a pretty scary, quite exclusive environment, where you could end up looking like an idiot at various opportunities. Someone told me to go have a go, and I did, and I’ll always be grateful."
Her advice for those dipping toes into racing? Matthews says: “One of the key skills to learn is how to stay in the washing machine of the bunch – if you’re not moving forward, your moving back. It takes a lot of concentration."
The part time racer, full-time business analyst raced for almost two full seasons with the team before they turned pro – an opportunity which has given her a lot of chances to learn. She explained: “Racing with Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International taught me about the mechanics of racing. I improve and get stronger physically year on year, but the biggest advantage I’ve got from racing with the team is learning how to race as a team."
Thinking about joining? Find out more here.