Feature Interview: Nikki Juniper


2015 Circuit Race Champion Nikki Juniper talks to Gordon Wiseman about juggling racing and team ambitions

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Feature Interview: Nikki Juniper
by Gordon Wiseman


Nikki Juniper (Team Ford Ecoboost), current Matrix Grand Prix series champion, 2015 National Crit champion and current leader of the Women’s Road Series – yes she really is The dominant and consistent force in women’s racing in the UK – talked with veloUK.net just hours before Saturday’s JLT Elite Criterium in the shadow of London’s iconic St Paul’s Cathedral.

VeloUK – You’re in the middle of an incredibly busy block of racing, three rounds of the Matrix Grand Prix series finished, three more to go, sandwiched between a pair of Women’s Road Series races and yet still you find the time – and energy – to race at the London Nocturne.
Nikki: “Yes, after the Matrix finishes on Thursday we’ve got the Essex Two-Day next weekend and that’s effectively my ‘home’ race. It’s not just racing on home roads but also at Hog Hill where I did my first ever race so I’m hoping to have a lot of support there”.

“But tonight it’s the Nocturne and I have a good record here.” (Nikki won in 2014, a result that raised her home profile to new levels and she podiumed at last year’s race) “And this year it’s on a different circuit as well as the 10th anniversary race.”

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself as, being just 30 minutes of racing it’s supposed to be fun. It’s like a party on a bike, you can play to the crowds and they’re always amazing. But yes, a result please!” (read a report on the race here)

“The big thing this year is the race being on a completely different circuit, it’s really technical and has a really long draggy finish. And we go to the right on this circuit where in many of the Tour Series races we turn left! So that’ll be interesting”.

VeloUK – Are you pleased with the way the Matrix series has gone so far, the whole year in fact, seeing that you’re riding with what’s effectively a brand new team?

Nikki “Oh yes. We’ve got a really young team, just 11 riders strong, but most of those are really development riders being Juniors. When we set up the team we were really passionate about driving that development side, giving something back and helping progress those riders. So the results we’ve been getting so far with such a young developing team, yes, I’m really pleased with what they’re doing and how we’re going”.

VeloUK – What about your own performances in the Matrix GP and Women’s Road Series?
Nikki – “I think for the Matrix races people are looking at us and saying ‘oh you haven’t had many riders finish in the top ten’ but it’s my job to get results in the crits, my team’s job is to be there to learn and they are learning. Charlotte Broughton got a fantastic 8th at Stoke, Julie Erskine did her second ever Matrix race there and finished higher than at Motherwell”.


“Clover Murray will be doing her first ever Matrix race at Croydon on Tuesday. We always seem to be signing on with a different line-up but we’re trying to give everyone a chance to race. The constants are myself and Charlotte but we’re trying to bring in local riders at the races nearest to their home. Charlene Joiner ‘has had three crashes in two weeks and just as results are important, my rider’s health is as important as any set of results.”

VeloUK – “You’ve used that phrase a few times, ‘my rider’s health’”.
Nikki – “Oh yes, they’re my riders, my girls. I see them like that and probably ‘mother’ them more than I should do. But their health and safety – and their schooling – is really important to me.

Tonight we’re got Charlotte and Henrietta’ – Colbourne – ‘here but right now they’re doing school work and they’re in the middle of their A levels so whilst they’re racing tonight, right now they’re studying. Cycling is not going to be there forever so we’ve always tried to emphasise that their education is really important”.


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VeloUK What are you hoping for in tonight’s race in view of your great run of results in the Nocturne?
Nikki – “I was a bit unfortunate last year as I got held up in a crash. I got straight back onto my bike which was probably not what I should have done”’

Nikki suffered bad cuts and bruising on her left arm and leg and the aftereffects of a bad bang to the head. Such were her injuries that she had to be helped up and down off the podium and then spent a long night in A&E –

“Hopefully, if they’re sorted out the gridding of riders things should be lot better. But it’s a new circuit, it’s fast, it’s technical so, what is there not to like? And they’ve got some brilliant riders here so, yes, it should be fun”.

VeloUK – Although there’s only three races to go, what are you hoping for in the final three Matrix races this year?
Nikki – “Podium Ambition really stormed things at Stoke, they’ve got that pure time trial power so they can just ride off the front, as a team they’ve got the ability to do that. I was sitting on the back of Clair Rose and Sarah Storey’s wheels and just effectively motor pacing. It’s not meant to be a cliché but I’ll be taking each race as it comes.

I’m hoping for an individual win – at least one! – but if I can be consistent I’ll be happy with that. And the girls all stay upright and safe. And if we could get a team win, that really will be the icing on the cake. But hats off to Drops and the others, they’re doing really well”.


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