Talkingshop with Team GB


Feature – Gordon Wiseman talks with Amy Hill, Lucy Garner & Darren Tudor of the GB team at the FriendsLife Women’s Tour

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Talkingshop with Team GB 


Amy Hill
The 18 year old from Newport, South Wales is one of three members of the 2013 Junior World Championship Team Pursuit winning quartet that’s at the hub of the Great Britain line-up for the FriendsLife Women’s Tour.

But Amy is very well aware that the reason she’s part of the Great Britain team for this race is experience, experience, experience.

VeloUK – What has your programme been like so far this year?

AH – It was pretty much track based until February time but it’s mainly been on the road for the last month or so. We’ve been concentrating on long miles but with some speed work here and there. I’ve been doing some racing as well at the weekends, the National Team Series, those sort of races, when I’ve been racing for Fusion RT. We used to be Abergavenny RT.

VeloUK – Looking at the quality of the riders on the entry list for the FLWT, how does it make you feel to be competing against riders of this calibre?

AH – A bit nervous but I’m going to go into the race as relaxed as I can and not expect too much of myself. I’m going to ride the race I’m told to race and keep as level a head as I can.

VeloUK – So as you’re effectively in a development team, you’re here to learn, to observe and to absorb as much as you can.

AH – Learn and absorb definitely but with Lucy being the sprinter that she is, try to get Lucy up there as much as we can.

VeloUK – Do you know what your role will be if you get to be in a position to be setting Lucy up in a sprint for a win or for some mid-race sprint points?

AH – We haven’t talked about that as yet but I think I’d be quite close to the front of the lead-out but then leave the others to take Lucy to the line. I’m not a sprinter as such but I’ve got a little bit of a kick for the end of races and I like going off the front.

VeloUK – Have you recced any of the route?

AH – We’ve done some miles of the first stage and it’s certainly not as flat as many people seem to be saying! It’s not really hilly but it’ll be interesting. It’s more rolling than hilly, a bit in the middle I guess. A lot of the sections are quite rolling but you can get dragged along in those bits. A lot of the road is sheltered by bushes and trees. There are a few open bits but nothing too major.

VeloUK – What is it you want to come out of the race with as Amy the rider?

AH – I’d like to get myself seen a little bit, learn from it and get the experience of the whole race. It’s my first senior elite women’s race. I did some big Dutch races last year but this will be my first time at elite level. It’s a scary, daunting but exciting thought all at the same time.

VeloUK – That’s what Amy wants, but what do you want to contribute to the Great Britain team?

AH – Get Lucy a stage win, it’s as simple as that.

Darren Tudor
Darren is the Welsh Cycling Union head coach and also work’s with British Cycling’s Women’s Academy. On the FriendsLife Women’s Tour he’ll be sharing DS duties with Chris Newton.

VeloUK – With the line-up you’ve got for this race is it mainly about getting experience?

DT – It is yes, we’ve got a bit of a mixed team this week. We’ve got someone like Lucy who has clearly been performing well in recent weeks in some big European races and has proved she can be up there in the bunch sprints and there’s a couple of stages at least in the race that look like they’ll finish that way.

So that’ll be something exciting from our point of view because ultimately ours is quite a young team with five out of the six riders not even 20 years of age yet. For the younger girls, riders like Amy Hill, Hayley Jones and Emily Kay, yes they’ve got a decent amount of experience racing as juniors on the continent on the road or as Junior World Champions as part of the team pursuit squad but this is a big step up for them now.

VeloUK – Amy Hill has spoken about their programme being mainly track based until February time but since then focussing more on the road. How have you managed that cross over period?

DT – To be fair to them, they’ve all been putting in the work that needs to be done as this race is quite a big goal for them. We did the Mexico Track World Cup in the back end of January but since then things have been more focussed on the road. At that point they didn’t know they’d be riding the Tour of Britain but it was more about having to get more general conditioning out on the road anyway.

We’ve kept in touch with the track in the period since, you’ve got to remember for some of the girls the focus is to be knocking on the door for the Rio Olympics, that’s ultimately the aim of things, so this race is about upping the ante and gaining experience.

VeloUK – You say “upping the ante”, in what way?

DT – We had a big training camp in Majorca, there were some from the Women’s Academy team, some Welsh girls, at the back end of February. After getting back from Mexico they had a bit of a break but then we went to Majorca and that was a good camp. It’d been a difficult winter for some of the girls, some of the girls had health issues to get over so it was an opportunity for those who’d been concentrating on the track to get out on the road and for those who’d been ill to get some work back into their legs.

VeloUK – You’ve said that the race is an opportunity for some of the girls in the team to get experience at this level but for one of the team, Lucy Garner, she’s already at the World level the younger riders will be aspiring to be at. Some of the girls are where Lucy was two or three years ago in which time she’s picked up two rainbow jerseys.

DT – And that shows the opportunities that are available to the younger riders and are goals for them to aim at. So in this race we’ve got Lucy, a double World champion on the road and Katie Archibald who’s part of the current World champion Team Pursuit squad so they know how to perform on the world stage and will be champing at the bit to get stuck into the racing.

But some of the younger girls may be a little nervous so they can learn a lot from Lucy in terms of the way she races her bike, her positioning, where she puts herself in the bike race and things like that. We’ve just come back from a ride, it was quite windy and there were some exposed spaces but with Lucy having trained and raced so much in Holland she knows what to do in those situations so I think the girls can learn quite a lot from that.

I don’t think it’s really up to Lucy to spend any effort in terms of a teaching role because she’ll want to perform herself and the others are there to protect Lucy where they can but then learn from what that means in racing for themselves and racing for ‘the team’.

There won’t have been many opportunities for them to have raced that way as juniors, bringing back breaks, to lead someone out, so in training we’ve been working on things like that but this will now be in racing mode so it may be a completely new ball game for them.

VeloUK – Apart from the learning curve for the younger riders, what is the Great Britain team looking for out of the race?

DT – Lucy has really been picking up her form in recent weeks and has already had some podium finishes in some big races in Europe. So this week I think she’s definitely going to be there or thereabouts and given her recent form podium places are possibilities here as well.

VeloUK – Where does this group of girls go for the rest of the spring and the summer?

DT – Well for Lucy it’ll be straight back to her trade team but for most of the girls it’s going to be the Commonwealth Games which is the next step for them whether they’ll be riding for Wales, England or Scotland as in Katie’s case. That takes us to the back end of July with the Commonwealth’s track competition being the focus for most of the girls and I think that’s where things have to be in terms of their development as riders.

And from the Commonwealths, again a bit of a break and then back training for the senior Nationals before we know it and the first round of the World Cup, possibly the Euros, that’s all in the planning stage right now. And then starting to think seriously about 2016 and Rio. This week is about building and developing, giving them an idea of what they can aspire to and to see where they are in their own minds in achieving those sort of bigger goals in the future.

Lucy Garner
Still not yet 20 years old, Lucy Garner has already racked up levels of experience far beyond what you’d expect for someone of her age. And two World Champions rainbow jerseys to boot. Normally seen in the colours of her “employer”, the Dutch Giant-Shimano squad but this week she’s leading the Great Britain team – and chasing her first win of the year.


VeloUK – Most of the other leading women’s teams are here for the FriendsLife Women’s Tour but not your trade team Giant-Shimano. Why are you riding for the Great Britain team?

LG – That’s very simple. On Sunday the team fly out to China for a stage race and the next round of the World Cup, the Tour of Chongming Island, and that was prioritised at the start of the year. Obviously for Kirsten (Wild) that’s brilliant, a stage race and the World Cup together, that’s a brilliant opportunity for her to win so that’s why the team have gone there.

VeloUK – But you scored your maiden professional win there last year so is that a little disappointing for you, not to be going back?

LG – I don’t know. It is in some ways but obviously I’d rather be here, racing in my own country, through my home town. I liked racing out there but Kirsten is really aiming for that race so it’d good for her to be there.

VeloUK – Your own season has been building up and you’ve been getting some good podium finishes, how do you see your season progressing so far?

LG – For me I’ve not been aiming for any goals as yet, my form is aiming for another two weeks in terms of my training schedule that my coach and I have planned. So for me to have already got podium finishes is way beyond what I thought I’d be doing at this stage. And my coach is also very surprised at my overall fitness level at this stage as well. I had a really good winter’s training, I wasn’t ill or had any injuries so I was concentrating on endurance and also my sprinting so, yes, it seems to have worked pretty well so far.

VeloUK – You refer to your first goals being in two weeks’ time, what is the target for then?

LG – There’s some big races in Holland and Belgium I’ll be doing but I’m never that good at remembering the names of them properly! But they’ll be a good opportunity to really try out my sprinting properly!

VeloUK – In 2013 you moved from the junior ranks to being a neo-pro and that will have involved some huge changes, but from 2013 to 2014 that was your first winter as a professional rider. So what changes did you make to your training last winter to take into account that line of development?

LG – Well as I’ve already said it was a solid winter with no illness. The training was a lot more focussed on me with the team at the training camps whereas the in the previous winter I just went out and smashed myself so I could hang on to the likes of Kirsten.

But this year, it was more if we went up a hill I could think ‘OK, I don’t have to go with them’ and so I could then think ‘this is my own training,’ keep to my own wattage and really do exactly what my coach was telling me to do. I guess I learned that training fast and as long as possible doesn’t always work. For me it was still doing a lot of miles but as slow as possible and so my condition really came on so much better.

I never thought that before but, no, it really does work! It was really nice to be able to go out and do hours and hours but at whatever pace I wanted, I didn’t always have to be pushing on the pedals constantly, it was about keeping the heart rate low for as long as possible. That was really so much more satisfying. I’ve really, really seen the results, I’m now so much fitter and, yes, when I get to the end of a race I can now sprint and so it’s working.

VeloUK – How much are you looking forward to racing in the FriendsLife Women’s Tour?

LG – It’ll be great. The second stage goes through my home town so I’ll have a lot of friends and family out to see me race and it’ll be a huge incentive for me. Obviously when I’m in Holland it’s difficult for them to get out there but they love to know how I’m getting on, love to watch me race so for them to be able to walk out of their doorstep and be there in such a big event, it’ll really be nice for all of us.

I’ve looked at the finish of stage 2 and it’s flat and I’m a sprinter so it’ll be an opportunity for me but I’ll still be racing against the same people I usually race against so for me to get a stage win will be amazing but realistically to get on the podium would be a really good result for me.

Post stage comment – Sprinting for the final podium place on the Bedford stage Lucy finished in fifth place behind Marianne Vos and Amy Pieters.

VeloUK – With no Giant-Shimano presence on the race, how good was it to get the chance to ride for the Great Britain team?

LG – It was a great chance for me. I didn’t want to miss the race and it’s my first stage race of the year. The stages are a bit shorter than the sort of distances I’d be used to racing in but that can only play into my hands. It’s a bit like the race in China last year, the shorter the stage the better my sprint, it works all round for me.

VeloUK – Most of your racing is in Europe but it’s effectively on the world stage. As a professional rider, how important do you see the FriendsLife race to be to the British domestic scene?

LG – It’s huge. I think it’s great that a British team like Matrix Fitness get the chance to race in something as big as this and I think they’re more than capable of doing so. Since last year the British domestic teams have got so much stronger and a lot more professional so it’s a good opportunity for them and for women’s cycling in general.

It’s really pleasing to me to see the sport developing as it is in my home country. Most of my racing is done in Holland and generally half the field will be Dutch riders so to have more British riders, yes I think this is really good, it’s getting stronger.

VeloUK – The women’s sport is developing but looking at the start list, there’s only one female DS managing a team. Is that a concern to you or is that part of the natural evolution of the sport?

LG – I think that’ll just take time. Obviously we’re making huge steps in the sport this year but things do take time, everything doesn’t change overnight. Riders have been pushing for equality in women’s racing but I think it’s a good time for the changes to be happening now especially as I see the women’s peloton to be so much more professional. I think everything will happen in time. You need some of this generation of riders who’ve made it to the top to be retiring and moving into those sort of roles.

VeloUK – You’re younger sister Grace is starting to put some good results together. What’s it like having a younger sister snapping at your heels?

LG – We are pretty competitive but we don’t really see that much of each other or race against each other but I think it’s great what she’s doing on the road and she’s doing amazing on the track as well. We don’t know what pathway she’ll finally end up going down at present but I think whatever she does she’ll be successful. Would I mind her as a team-mate? No, but only as long as I can still sprint!

VeloUK – Looking ahead, what other targets will you be focussing on for the rest of the year?

LG – I’d really like to be selected for the Commonwealth Games on the road, to be riding in support of Lizzie. I rode the World’s last year in that role but the course was really tough and well out of my league at that point of my career. Long term the Worlds are said to be on a sprinters course in 2016 in Qatar so that’s definitely something I’ll be aiming for as well.



Other Results on VeloUK (including reports containing results)

Other News on VeloUK

Tags: , ,