Joanna Rowsell Pursuing the Olympic Dream

London girl Joanna Rowsell is really looking forward to racing on the Olympic Track for the first time after being selected for the Great Britain Cycling Team to race the World Cup in two weeks.

From South London, Joanna will returning to an area where she spent a lot of her time racing at the historic London Eastway circuit which was dug up to make way for the Olympic Park.

After a few weeks training in glorious weather in Majorca, Joanna is back on the Manchester boards and preparing for the first of three major events in 2012, the London World Cup. While never taking anything for granted, Joanna admits it was nice to have it confirmed that she was going to the London World Cup.

Especially after the build-up for Joanna wasn’t the best. After a good block of work in November, Joanna had to endure an unplanned break of three weeks after surgery for a wisdom tooth. Everything came good eventually and just before the New Year, the former World Champion was back on her bike ahead of a busy month with the GB team.

[pullquote]“We’ve had a really good block of training in January and I’m really pleased that my fitness has come on so quickly and I’m back to where I was” Joanna explained to VeloUK in an exclusive interview.[/pullquote]
On the road in Majorca,  there were a lot of hours but also a lot of intensity using split sessions. The team were performing drills on the road that were aimed at helping them on the track whether it was threshold efforts on climbs, team time trial efforts or standing starts.

“I quite enjoyed the split days” says Joanna. “We’d do four hours a day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon and with the rides being split allowed for more intensity”.

“It is hard to tell though where my form is right now because we haven’t done any similar work to what I’d do prior to a major competition. We’ve been in Majorca for two weeks and today (Feb 2) was the first day back on the track. This week we’ll get quite a lot of time on the track  getting dialled into riding together on the track and then next week will be more about the efforts.”

The Women’s Team Pursuit is about three riders going as fast as they can over 3,000 metres. Asked how four riders can train together for an event that has only three riders in it, Joanna explained “one of the riders will lead us in (rolling effort, not a standing start) and then lay off the back of the other three and let them get on with the effort.”

“We’ll rotate who lays off so everyone gets to be in the effort or, a rider can’t hold the pace that day, will be the one who’ll lay off the back. This way, the team gradually selects itself through the training efforts during the week or so before the race.”

Joanna says the ability of the team is continuing to reach new levels and with other countries also getting quicker and competing for the medals, the event is sure to be a great spectacle for those watching the London World Cup live and on TV.

“We’ve seen so many countries since it was brought in raise their game; and that progress will probably continue all the way up to the Olympics” Joanna explained. “We just have to keep training hard and doing what we’re doing, trying out new things to go faster.”

[pullquote]“Since Paul (Manning) came to us as a coach, we have tried out lots of new things, different training methods and that has been really refreshing for us as a squad especially as he’s been there and done it. You need to change things to keep progressing — you can’t keep doing the same things.” [/pullquote]

The team, says Joanna, has a much sharper focus now the Olympics are just over the horizon and all the riders can sense the urgency to be in the best form of their life. Joanna says she’s unsure what times the race will produce on the new track in London but it’s not the time they are looking for but to win their races.

There can’t be many better feelings than heading to race on an Olympic track but for Joanna, it will also feel like home and there in the stands for the World Cup will be family and friends. For now, it’s only the London World Cup she is focused on. The Olympics, is for now, just another race in August.

[pullquote]“I don’t really think about the Olympics, if I did that, I’d probably find it over whelming. It is another race in August and for now, we just get on with the training and continue with the process.” [/pullquote]

Those that watch the Team Pursuit will see, with the top nations at least, three girls all racing close together and working as one to go as fast as possible.  But the girls in the squad of four are all quite different as riders.

“Laura and Dani came from the sprint academy but have been endurance riders for a while now” Joanna explained. “They have the fast twitch muscles to give them the speed while Wendy Houvenaghel   is probably the most endurance based rider. I’m somewhere in the middle with sprint and endurance qualities.”

“To be a good team pursuiter you need to be fast but also have the endurance to keep that speed for the 3k”.

And her role in the Team Pursuit I asked? “I have been man 1 for the last few years and have been man 2 twice I think. Laura is also good at man 1. I have plenty of experience in that role and feel I’m good at getting them up to pace but then I know I can also ride in any position. At the moment, I’m not sure about where I’ll ride in London.”

The World Cup is two weeks away (16th of Feb) and between now and then are two weeks of pretty intense work. Four days a week on the track and then three days a week on the road because they realise that the Track Worlds are still a few months away and they can’t afford to neglect their endurance work whilst also working on being as fast as they can be.

Most of the hard on the road though has been done in Majorca which just leaves the training on the track to focus on mostly. That hard work is what Joanna enjoys and she admits finding it hard to rest. Joanna though can’t wait to race either as they don’t get to do it very often… three times actually, London World Cup, Track Worlds and Olympics. Now that’s what you call quality over quantity!

Good luck to Joanna and the rest of the team from VeloUK.

Joanna’s Website

Interviews from VeloUK

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