The sun is shining, temperatures are rising and the road cycling season is officially in full swing and we have to say we are getting pretty excited. And the best thing of all is that you too can get in on the action. With the Aviva Women’s Tour kicking off in June and the Pearl Izumi Tour Series which kicks on 14 May we are lucky enough to have world class racing right here on our doorsteps in the UK.
The Pearl Izumi Tour Series which includes the women’s Matrix Fitness Grand Prix is a particularly exciting event this year as a group of world class riders will take to the start line in Ryde on the Isle of Wight for the first round of the men’s event.
Among those listed in the 10-rider men's squads for the Pearl Izumi Tour Series are Olympic Champions Ed Clancy, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Steven Burke, 2014 Commonwealth Games Gold medallist Tom Scully and current Australian Criterium Champion Steele Von Hoff. While the women's Matrix Fitness Grand Prix Series, which starts five days later in Redditch on Tuesday 19 May will feature Olympic Champions Laura Trott, Dani King and Joanna Rowsell, plus multiple Paralympic Champion Dame Sarah Storey and Commonwealth Games medallist Charline Joiner.
On the women’s side, it is likely that all eyes will be on Dame Sarah Storey who has proved to be a force to be reckoned with already this season. Storey won both the Individual Pursuit World title and the 500m, wowed us during her Hour Record attempt and proved she is undoubtedly stronger than ever on the road with an impressive breakaway at the Cheshire Classic. We were lucky enough to catch up with Dame Sarah to see how she is feeling about her season so far and to find out a little more about what lies ahead…
Sarah this has been a pretty exciting year for you so far and it is really just beginning, what has been the highlight?
I guess the Hour was a highlight for so many reasons but I obviously loved retaining my Individual Pursuit World title as well as unexpectedly winning the 500m despite not really doing any training for it!
We all cheered you on at the Hour Record, how did you feel after that?
Horrendous! I had such bad cramp that for a while I wondered whether I would ever walk properly again. I was so proud of myself that day though and I don’t think you ever say that very often as an athlete. I couldn’t have done any more than I did that day and although I fell short of the 46,065km I gave everything I had an achieved the furthest distance at sea level.
Did the Hour set you up for the season or did it take a while to recover?
It has set me up well and so much so that talk has crept in of another attempt in the future. I don’t expect to be doing it again anytime soon, but then I never expected to be doing it at all anyway, so you never know! The training effect that doing the Hour gave me was incredible and I achieved my highest ever lab score of 431W for my Max Minute power a week later. I have been putting that engine to good use on the road by winning Cheshire Classic with a solo breakaway!
You have some really talented riders on your team, Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International this year, that must be pretty exciting?
Yes the team is a who’s who of women’s cycling in the UK really and we have a real cross section of strengths. We always wanted to put together a team that could thrive in any type of race situation and I think we have done that because already there have been wins from five different riders and podiums from others. Everyone gets their chance to be the race winner and we have a flexible strategy for every race so that we can communicate as a team and build the trust to know who is right for the win in the various situations we find ourselves in.
What will be the main focus events for your team this year?
National Championships are always important but we also have rides in some of the biggest women’s stage races in the world as well as five riders who are working with their National teams. The focus is very diverse and this really helps with motivation across the team. We have 12 riders so it is important to have lots to focus on so that everyone gets the chance to improve and work for others as well as getting results for themselves.
Of course we know you will be at the Pearl Izumi Tour Series, can you tell me a little bit about what sets this event apart from others?
The Tour Series is a unique event in that the racing comes thick and fast and it relies on consistency across the five rounds that the women contest. We have our criterium specialists working hard to focus on this and they will be well supported by a rotating group of riders. The event is great for sponsors and spectators to see the riders up close because the circuits tend to be quite short.
What can spectators expect from the Pearl Izumi Tour Series?
Fast, exciting racing with lots of entertainment. The women’s races are only quite short and so the races are attacking from the start.
Finally, we are all in awe of your multi-tasking abilities as a Mum, pro-cyclist, spokesperson… how on earth do you do it?!
Life is too short to turn down opportunities and I am lucky that Louisa is a great traveller. We have always travelled as a family so now Louisa is a part of that, I thrive off being busy and love a challenge. I used to spend a lot of time blogging and updating my website but these days I don’t get time for that I have so much else going on!
The opening round of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series will take place at Ryde, Isle of Wight, on Thursday 14 May, with highlights shown on ITV4 at 8pm on Friday 15 May while the women's Matrix Fitness Grand Prix Series will be kick off in Redditch on 19 May.
Fans in the south of England or travelling to Round One of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series at Ryde on the Isle of Wight can also visit the Pearl Izumi outlet store at Gunwharf Quays (Unit 91) in Portsmouth, just a short walk from where the Wightlink ferries depart to the Isle of Wight.
In addition to this we are offering you the chance to win a full set of the replica kit for the Tour Series and a VIP package for two people at a venue of their choice at the 2015 Pearl Izumi Tour Series.