Feature – FriendsLife Women’s Tour Stage 1


Gordon Wiseman speaks to Rachel Heal and Emma Pooley at the start of stage 1 on the Friends Life Women’s Tour

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Feature – FriendsLife Women’s Tour Stage 1

Gordon Wiseman writes … Stage 1 – On The Start Line

Rachel Heal (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) – “Since I got here from the Tour of the Gila everything has been smooth running. Hannah” (Barnes) “had arranged for us to stay at Whittlebury Hall where she used to work when we first got here and they looked after us perfectly.

“We had all the riders arrive at different times. Hannah’s been here a while, some of the US riders who weren’t racing at the Gila came in a few days ago and then we had two riders who were riding the Gila“ Katie Hall and former GB National Road Race champion Sharon Laws “who only flew in yesterday. They had to finish the race but I was able to pass on DS duties to fly to the UK a day earlier to help get things settled here.

“The team is settling in very well and for us it’s great having the men’s team with its structure already in Europe so we have some of the staff and mechanics here from Europe as well. It makes it some much easier for a US team coming over to be able to hit the ground running because we have that structure to fall back on.

“And of course the big tem coach! The team is very much treating the women’s team on par with the men’s team. They obviously use the team cars and the coach more than we do but it’s not a case of us ‘borrowing’ the men’s coach, it’s one squad and we’re all treated the same way.

“I’m really, really happy with the way the whole race is being run in terms of the way the riders are being treated, it does feel exactly the same as the men’s race. It really is being run incredibly professionally.

“A lot has been said about today’s first stage running close to where Hannah lived and she’s our sprinter but she is still very young so we’re trying to keep the pressure off her as much as we can. The racing she’s been doing this year is a whole step up from where she was last year so I don’t want to put too much pressure on her but she does have family and friends here so regardless of what we do she is feeling some pressure”.


Emma Pooley (Lotto Belisol Ladies) – “I think what I’ve seen here on the Tour so far is just fantastic and I think it reflects the enthusiasm there is for racing in the UK at present. Things have really taken off here and you can see how popular the men’s Tour of Britain has become and I think it’s great that there’s a women’s race that is as big. I hope this is the start of something big for women’s racing in the UK.

“The response from the public so far has been fantastic and similar to what we’d see at a big European race. There’s a crazy amount of people out for what is a mid-week start. And that also shows that people want to see bike racing, women’s racing and men’s racing so that’s great.

“My own form is going OK but I’m not a sprinter so this race isn’t really going to be my kind of thing. I’m here as a domestique to work for the team, that’s one of the great things about cycling, you work for your team and your team works for you, it’s a case of what goes around comes around. There’s some small hills but not what I’m really used to, it could split up but it’s a race so let’s wait and see. The crowds though are great and it’s so good to see so many crowds on the road. Fantastic”.




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