Xmas Feature – Hayley Simmonds


Q & A with British Time Trial Champion Hayley Simmonds who rides for a UCI team in 2016

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Xmas Feature – Hayley Simmonds


1. Going to a pro team, what are your goals for 2016 and what made you choose that team and what are you looking forward to most with them?
Hayley: My main goal for 2016 is to make the road race team for the Rio Olympics to support Lizzie Armitstead, like I did in the 2015 World Championships in Richmond. Another personal goal is to try and get on the podium in a UCI road race, or in a stage of a UCI stage race.

I had my first UCI podium in September when I finished 3rd in Chrono Champenois TT, but I want to prove that I am capable of getting road race results at the same level.

I chose UnitedHealthcare as my home for 2016 as I had heard a lot of very positive things about the team, especially when talking to riders who have ridden for them previously. They seem a very organised as a team, and this impression has certainly been reinforced in all of the communications I have had with them since signing. I’m going into 2016 knowing that my calendar and equipment are all sorted.

I’m looking forward to having a really good calendar and being part of what is a really strong and successful team – I feel that there is a lot I can learn from the other riders. I’m also looking forward to the greater selectivity of UCI road races.

2. What were your highlights in 2015?
Hayley: My main highlights from 2015 were my win in the British Time Trial Championship and riding at the World Championships, particularly the road race.

I was very nervous for the time trial at the Worlds and felt that I didn’t do as well as I had hoped as a result. However, I thought the road race went really well and the feeling of being part of the winning team was incredible. It was also nice to be the only other Brit to finish the road race.


3. What race was the most enjoyable in 2015 and why?
Hayley: The race I enjoyed the most in 2015 was actually the British Road Race Champs. Approaching Michaelgate for the second time, I was forced off the road and into some cones which resulted in me hitting the climb much too far back and unfortunately I missed the group that went off the front that time up the climb.

Sharon Laws also missed the split and we ended up in the same chasing group. After 1 1/2 laps of pulling hard turns, we managed to pull the break back and I then made sure I was in the right place so that when another split appeared on the following climb of Michaelgate I was the correct side of it.

It was a hard race but I was really happy with the work I had done and the feeling of pulling back the break was extremely satisfying. I loved the course and was pleased with 10th place.

4. What has made the difference to you in time trialling and on the road in 2015 – anything specific with training and has there been one thing you have learnt that has helped you move up a level?
Hayley: I’ve always had good power numbers which have increased steadily with carefully planned training over the past four years. One thing with me that has made a big difference this year and will continue to do so next year is that I’m still able to shed more weight (I raced about 5kg lighter this year compared to in 2014 which has obviously made a big difference to my climbing – I’m planning to be another 3-4kg lighter in 2016).

A big change for me this year has been in road racing and I put a lot of this down to increased confidence. Until this season I hadn’t been enjoying road racing as much as time trialling and was always extremely nervous on start lines, regardless of the level of race.

I also didn’t have much self belief in road races. This changed at Gent-Wevelgem this year. The conditions were the worst I’ve ever ridden a bike in and the race didn’t actually start well when I found myself drifting back very early on. However bloody-mindedness took over and I was determined to stay in the race. I ended up having a really good race, despite the terrible conditions, and I took a lot of confidence from that which stood me in good stead for the rest of the year.

5. Tell us about your winter training bike, what is different about it compared to your race bike?
Hayley: The bike that I use in the UK over is a proper winter bike! Full mudguards and flaps, heavy winter tires etc… It’s very heavy compared to my normal race bike, but much better at standing up to the harsh UK winters. It still has a power meter on it though so that I can ensure my winter training is of a good quality and my coach can monitor what I’m doing.

When I go abroad for warm-weather training camps, I take my race bike from 2013 as the roads where we go are in good condition and the whether is generally good even in early January. And yes, that bike also has a power meter on it.

6. How will you spend December on the bike – at home or abroad, long miles only or a mixture of intervals and miles and bike only or gym/cross training too?
Hayley: December this year is a bit different to previous winters for me. I’ve known since February that I’d have to go on a 10-day conference as part of my PhD studies (the conference is in Hawaii so don’t feel too sorry for me) and as result my winter training has been planned around this enforced break.

So whereas most of the other girls who I was racing for GB with at Worlds took their break directly after that, I’ve continued training hard all the way through till now. I did Chrono des Nations and the National Hill Climb in October so I had those to aim at, however the last six weeks I’ve been training with no races to target, just the aim of being in the best shape I can possibly be in with a view to 2016.

It’s actually worked out really well, it’s been nice to have a consistent block of training without the stress of racing and travelling (I find all the travelling the most tiring part if I’m honest), and to go into that block of training already on great form. It’s allowed me to push myself really, really hard and make good progress. I’ve been doing a mixture of long miles, intervals and gym training, and I’m really happy with where I am right now.

I’ll be back into training straight after Christmas – so my off-season break this year will be quite short. I’ll be based in the south of Spain for most of January, until I head off for the UHC team launch and then the start of my season. I’m really looking forward to being full time from the new year onward and not having to juggle training with being in the lab and teaching commitments.

7. A cheeky Xmas one … if you could have any cycling related xmas present – what would it be!
Hayley: If I could have anything cycling related then I think the new Pro TeXtreme tri-spoke front wheel looks very fast. One of those would come in handy for trying to go even faster in TTs next year.

At the more practical end of the spectrum, I should probably invest in a decent bike box, as I think I am going to be doing a huge amount of flying with my bikes this year. I really like the look of the SciCon AeroComfort as you have to do hardly any disassembling/re-assembling of the bike.



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