At the start of this year’s road season I had no real race plans, with it being only 1yr out from the Olympic Games in Tokyo. I went through the race calendar and chose a couple of local races that I could do with my RST/CYCLE DIVISION team mates, that fitted around the track races and training plans I already had in place. This season for me was less about results and big races, and more about what would help me get better for Tokyo. I have raced only 6 road races this year and 1 Team Time Trial, but I have come away with 4 wins and that as a percentage makes me very happy. The support I have had from my team around me has been everything I could have asked for and more. Everyone has been so supportive and accommodating with my Olympic Track dreams, whilst letting me learn and continue to develop on the road side of things. I wanted to stay out of the road scene during 2019 and 2020 in order to remove the pressure of performance and results, and yet by removing that pressure and only racing for fun, I have achieved results I never expected.
The Midland regional championships was my first road race win of the season, and in fact my first road win since Northwich Tour series back in 2017! It was also the first time I have ever raced with my younger sister Josie, and it was great to talk team tactics and ride alongside her! Seeing a good friend of mine Danni Khan come back from a long term injury and back into the racing scene was awesome and I’m so proud that she is now racing for the UCI World Tour team Lotto Soudal! Expect big things from her over the next couple of years… I said it first!
Winning the CICLE CLASSIC which is a National Series race, is my best result not just this year, but my road career! Going into it, I didn’t think the course was much suited to me at all with it being fairly hilly (lots of QOMs) and including off road sectors. However, I managed to hold onto a very reduced front group and win the bunch sprint at the end! My bike was awesome. I raced on a Scott Foil 20 disc with RC50-D Cero wheels set up as tubeless. It was so responsive and I could descend in the very wet conditions and tackle the off-road sectors with a lot of confidence, which really helped with energy conservation and positional gains throughout the race.
Wins number 3 & 4 were at the weekend long Bourne CICLE Festival where I raced the road race and the TTT with my awesome teammates Alice Towers, Phoebe Martin and my sis Josie Nelson. I felt a lot of pressure going into that weekend. The race wasn’t a National Series, but being in the same general area as the CICLE classic, same organisers and with myself being named as the pre-race favourite for the win, I did put pressure on myself to perform. It was my first race on my brand new bike: Scott Foil 10 disc (ridden with Cero Wheels RC50-Ds, continental GP5000 tubeless tyres) which my bike shop/team Cycle Divison had upgraded me to it the week before! I was determined to do it justice and so was delighted to pull off the win, as well as take the Queen of the Castle sprints competition and 2 of the 3 “Hot Spot” sprints.
The team was in good spirits going into the TTT the next day and I think the win the day before boosted everyone’s confidence. We all rode our hearts out and I was especially proud of the 2 younger girls who were restricted to Junior gears still! There were times I was riding in my 53×11 gear and forgetting they were probably spinning at a ridiculous rate! Crossing the finish line we had no idea where we had finished in the overall as we were one of the first teams off. All 4 of us were absolutely chuffed with our performance though and our team car pulled up and we all celebrated our first team time trial experience in high spirits. It was nearly 2hrs later that we found out we had in fact won and beaten the pre-race favourites to the trophy!
I have thoroughly enjoyed this years road season, I genuinely believe that having been surrounded by teammates and staff that I have a really great relationship with, has made this year the most enjoyable yet on the road. With my parents living nearby to where the shop/team is located, I’ve had the chance to go out on team rides and get to know everyone more than I ever expected when I first made the move onto the team. I have been extremely proud to train and race in my RST/Cycle Division kit and I will continue to do so on my Olympic journey.
My road racing is completed for now though, and if I’m honest I don’t know if I shall do as many races next year as I did this year. The track season has just begun and will hopefully finish at the Olympics in Japan!