Having experienced a lot of women’s racing this year through the Women’s Tour and the Tour de France Femmes, we were also lucky enough to get to see Stage 5 of the Men’s Tour of Britain in Nottingham. This was the first race we attended with Dame Sarah Storey and so we were able to have our mentorship meetings whilst watching the racing unfold. Here’s some insight to our day witnessing a pretty hectic sprint finish!
Favourite part of the day: My favourite part of the day was being shown around where the tour buses are near the start, seeing all of the riders doing their race prep and seeing how the teams behind the race teams help to get them to the start line. The tension and excitement was really palpable! I used to study in Nottingham and it was lovely to see cycling clubs from my old local area and people from the community taking a real interest in the race and the atmosphere.
Chat with Sarah: My chat with Sarah was really informative and encouraging. I had to take two weeks off from sport altogether after having a small heart surgery at the end of the summer. Sarah gave me some reassurance about gaining fitness back during my recovery and we talked about the benefits of training indoors to maintain fitness during the winter. It was really motivating to hear that it wasn’t going to be the end of the world if my body needed extra time to rest and that I needed to really listen to the messages it was giving me!
What I learnt from the racing: we were all quite shocked when some of the riders took the wrong route really close to the finish allowing other riders from the peloton to come through to the top positions. It just goes to show that anything is possible and strength won’t always win you the race.
Favourite part of the day: Getting the opportunity to go behind the scenes amongst the teams at the start, enabling us to learn about the non-rider roles within a team as well as gain further insight into the running and organisation of a team at this level.
Chat with Sarah: My 1-to-1 coincided with the finish of the race, which enabled me to learn and discuss the race tactics of a sprint finish with Sarah.
What I learnt from the racing: That even if you’re not a sprinter you still play a vital part in a sprint finish stage throughout the race. This can be easily demonstrated by seeing who is on the front with 5km to 1km to go and then looking where they finish on the results after the finish, as well as where their sprinter finished.
Favourite part of the day: Having the opportunity to talk to some of the riders and learn more about what goes on behind the scenes of a race team prepping for a big staged event. I loved being able to spend the day with my ŠKODA DSI Academy teammates and experience the day with them.
Chat with Sarah: My 1:1 chat with Sarah was very informative. We spoke about how my season went and my National win. We talked about what I had planned for the rest of the season and an opportunity to guest ride with Storey racing at the National Closed Circuit TT and TTT at Thruxton.
What I learnt from the racing: That anything can happen in the last part of the race.
Favourite part of the day: I loved the Robin Hood hats given out to spectators! They acted as tokens of pride for Nottingham’s history and reminded me how incredible bike racing can be for celebrating city’s (and countries’!) cultures. I wore mine all day, excited to be not only a part of a bike racing community, but a part of such a positive spectating community too.
Chat with Sarah: I had a really reassuring chat with Sarah in which we discussed the ups and downs of balancing university life with competitive cycling training. She supported my plan to pursue a well-rounded student lifestyle, including cross training with loads of other sports including netball, football, basketball, hockey, running and badminton. I’m loving balancing this with a more low-key on-bike training schedule as the variety keeps me wanting more!
What I learnt from the racing: Rather than specific skills or techniques, the racing reminded me what a vibrant and exciting thing competitive cycling is to be part of. It recharged my inspiration for cycling.
Favourite part of the day: Getting to catch up with my ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy teammates whilst watching some exciting racing! We also got a picture with Tom Pidcock just before the torrential rain set in..
Chat with Sarah: Over the last few months, I have been unable to train due to struggling with the aftereffects of COVID-19. Sarah provided really useful advice to help with my recovery and I hope that I will be back on my bike soon.
What I learnt from the racing: Do your research about the finish of a stage! A lot of the leaders made a wrong turn in the last kilometre which cost them a possible stage win.