Škoda DSI Cycling Academy – Meet the New Riders

By We Love Cycling

Alex Morrice

Hi I’m Alex and sport has always been a big part of my life. I enjoyed many different sports at school including cross country running, swimming and netball. I went on to play Regional level netball, which was really fun. I’m now in my final year of a Physics and Chemistry degree at the University of Bath, and I have had to juggle sport with lots of lectures and labs. The lockdown in 2020 coincided with me having a placement year with Morgan Stanley and I was able to join the company’s weekly Zwift rides with James Golding who really encouraged me to concentrate on my cycling. I was enjoying cycling so much that I started working with my current coach Dean Downing in September 2021 and have not looked back since!

Cycling with the University of Bath Cycling Club this year has been a great experience, allowing me to balance my final year studies with training both on Zwift and with my friends. I’ve also enjoyed my first few circuit races and time trials, and am fortunate to live very close to the local race circuit! I’m looking forward to spending my time cycling this summer, and am particularly excited for the upcoming opportunities with the Škoda Academy and learning about the journey into professional cycling with the mentorship of Dame Sarah Storey. I was really pleased to be selected for the Academy as a result of the challenging power tests at Lee Valley Velodrome, and loved meeting some incredibly strong and talented young women on the day.

Maia Forde

My name is Maia and I joined the Academy this year. I started cycling a couple of years ago by commuting to work and rowing training. After changing job and finishing my Master’s degree, I no longer had the flexibility in my schedule for rowing, therefore I decided to start cycling more as my predominant form of exercise. I decided to buy myself some cleats and cycling shoes last summer, and joined Black Cyclists Network in September 2021 for the Rapha Women’s 100. I really enjoyed this and decided that I wanted to stick with cycling because I loved the fact that it was a social sport and gave me a sense of freedom. I really enjoy group rides with my club and I am keen to try out some racing this year when my work schedule allows. Balancing training with working in a hospital can be quite challenging but I find that commuting to work on my bike helps to relieve stress and also to get some more miles in!

Cycling has made me realise my own abilities and challenge myself more than any sport I have ever done. It has a similar intensity to rowing, but I am so used to team sports and in cycling there is nowhere to hide. This year I’m really looking forward to improving my skills on the and confidence on the bike so that I can race, but also doing some longer rides by myself.  I am really looking forward to working with Škoda this year to get more into the world of cycling and I hope to keep improving throughout the coming months.

Katie-Ann Elliston

I am Katie-Ann and I am currently finishing my second year at the University of Derby studying Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation. I started cycling when I was ten years of age and properly began when my dad took me out on ride to a little café before I then joined Southend Wheelers with my family. I then went on and took up track, time trialling, grass track and road racing which I absolutely love competing in. In 2018, I got the National Junior Girls 30mile record and broke it again in 2019 as well as won Bronze in the National Women’s 5k Grass track in 2019. Cycling allows me to see the places from another angle and explore new areas which is why I went to the University of Derby because it was close to the Peak District and close to a track. It is hard balancing cycling with university, however, cycling has become a stress relief especially in exam season.

My future goal is to become a professional road cyclist and so being a part of the Škoda Academy will help me gain more knowledge and develop as a rider going down that route. I have already learnt and developed so much from Dame Sarah Storey and the Škoda team, in the two months of being a part of the Academy. The thing I am looking forward to the most with the Academy is having all these new experiences, for example, in July we get to go to Le Tour de France.

On the Škoda testing day, I did not have any expectations of myself due to having Covid at the start of this year which took me off the bike for eight weeks. Two weeks prior to the selection testing day, I had started from scratch with riding my bike and am still experiencing post viral fatigue. So, when I found out I had been selected I was really pleased.