Feature – Harriet Owen Racing Against the Best


Gordon Wiseman writes “Harriet Owen nervous at the thought of lining up against the top women riders in the world”

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Feature – Harriet Owen Racing Against the Best

Much has been written about the star qualities of many of the riders taking part in this week’s FriendsLife Women’s Tour. But in the midst of the international line-up, arguably the top nationally based British women’s outfit, Matrix Fitness – Vulpine, is determined to show how the British scene is rapidly improving.


And Harriet Owen is a diminutive but as determined part of that team.

Although an international rider and Junior World Track Championship silver medallist in her own right – Harriet came second in the 2010 Worlds Scratch race – the 20 year old admitted to being nervous at the thought of lining up against the top women riders in the world.

“It’s really quite scary” said Harriet explaining how she was feeling the day before the racing got underway. “I know some of the riders but a lot of them I still watch on TV so to be racing against them is something really huge. Some of these riders are superstars in their own right”.

Harriet and her five team-mates face very stiff competition from the likes of the London 2012 Women’s Road Race gold and silver medallists, the world’s number one female rider Marianne Vos and the current World Cup leader Lizzie Armistead.

The five day, nearly 500km race is the brainchild of the SweetSpot organisation who also manage the men’s Tour of Britain and, in the words of Race Director Mick Bennett, have built the women’s race to create “fair and equal treatment of women’s cyclists not only in Great Britain but the world”.


Based mainly in the East Midlands and the East of England, the opening stage finishes in Northampton. On Thursday the racing moves to Bedford before the 96 riders race to finishes in Clacton, Welwyn Garden City and the climax of the race in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday afternoon.

A race of this important requires a great deal of rider preparation as Harriet explained. “Really, all my races so far this year have been for this race alone. We have recced the first and fifth stages and we know for sure that, contrary to what a lot of people have been saying, the route for the Tour is certainly not flat!

“But there’s a bit of everything in the race so it’s a good route. I think we can expect stage 1 to be carnage as everyone tries to keep their team leader at the front but by the time we start stage 2 I think the big hitters will overall ambitions will hit the front big time and so that’s when I expect the most damage to be one”.

With this being the debut edition of the race Harriet recognises that this is a huge move forward for women’s racing and women’s sport overall in the UK.

“This race gives nationally based riders the chance to shine on what is effectively a world stage. And it’s a huge opportunity for our team sponsors who’ll be getting so much coverage on the road and on TV from the race”.
Team manager Stefan Wyman also recognises that his riders are facing a big challenge but won’t be happy with the team’s results if, come the final stage to Bury St Edmunds on Sunday, they’ve “only” done enough to finish the race.

“We’re not here just to survive. We want to show our sponsors and we want to show our riders. Just ‘getting round’ and finishing in Bury St Edmunds is not why we’re here. We want our riders to get into breaks, to be at the front of the peloton, to race for sprints and if we can, to get onto the podium at some point. We want to show exactly what the British domestic racing scene can achieve”.

Harriet is now in her second year with Matrix Fitness and feels very much at home with the set up. “I’m really enjoying my racing with Matrix Fitness – Vulpine. And with Helen on the team” (Helen Wyman, the 2014 World Cyclo-Cross bronze medallist) “ we have a very experienced rider we can all learn from”.

Harriet expects to be working for Helen after the original leader for the race, Dutch rider Sigrid Jochems, was injured after crashing whilst racing at the weekend in her native Holland.

“We’ve not yet had our team meeting to confirm what our individual roles will be for the race but with Sigrid no longer here I expect we’ll put all our support behind Helen. But with this being such a big race I’m hoping there’s some sprinting opportunities for me. I know for sure I’ll certainly take those chances if they come my way”!



Other Results on VeloUK (including reports containing results)

Other News on VeloUK

Tags: , , ,