Q&A: Annie Simpson (Drops Cycling)


Flying high during the cross season, Annie Simpson is also looking forward to another season with Drops Cycling in 2017 on the road

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Q&A: Annie Simpson (Drops Cycling)

Flying high during the cross season, Annie Simpson is also looking forward to another season with Drops Cycling in 2017 on the road. We quiz her about 2016 and her goals for next year …


Annie Simpson in the Lincoln GP this year

1. What was the highlight of the 2016 season for you?
Annie: It is hard to pick one highlight as I had so many enjoyable trips with the team. One that stands out is when we did a small block of racing in Belgium which I really enjoyed. We then headed north for the Tour of Norway. I have always wanted to visit Norway and it didn’t disappoint (apart from maybe a bit too much rain).

I felt this was the point of the season where my form was at its best and it just makes racing so much more enjoyable when I can do my job to help the team. We were lucky enough to stay another night after the race and have a boat trip down a Fjord. It’s not all about the bike with Drops which is one of my favourite parts of the team.

2. What was your favourite race of 2016?
Annie: My favourite race was probably Ride London. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was far from my best result and I suffered throughout but the experience was unforgettable. It was my first Women’s World Tour race, so being on the start of a race of that calibre was a bit of a pinch yourself moment. But to be racing down some of our country’s most iconic roads past huge landmarks was incredible, even if they were a blur as the race was so ridiculously fast. The crowd was like nothing I’ve ever experienced and to have some of my family come and watch also made it super special.

3. What was the toughest race of 2016 for you?
Annie: The toughest race for me was without a doubt the Tour of Ardeche. This was the first time I had properly raced up mountains and I don’t class myself as a mountain goat! I’m more an all-rounder so I really had to go through a world of suffering each day at the race from all the climbing.

The day we raced to the top of Ventoux was probably the single hardest day I have ever spent on a bike. I was swinging before we even got to the foot of the climb. I went through some dark times grovelling up the climb but to be a part of the first women’s race to finish at the top of there and actually survive to tell the tale was worth it. Pretty decent views from the top as well.


4. If there was one thing you learned most in 2016 to help you go faster/better, what was that?
Annie: Learning the art of riding in a 100 plus rider bunch again took some time to do this year. I think once you have made your peace with that, then you can really get your head down and race. It took a fair few races to get used to that having been away from road racing for a fair few years. Hopefully, starting 2017, I should be better prepared for this. A lot of it is about believing in yourself too, believing you can race at that level and not being intimidated by it all.

5. What is the piece of equipment/clothing that you are looking forward to most in 2017?
Annie: I can’t wait to jump back on a super light Trek Emonda SLR again. It was easily the lightest bike I have ever ridden and now I am back training on my winter bike, I realise how much of a game changer my race bike was! I miss it, a lot!

6. What is your warm up routine for races – rollers or turbo? Music or no music?
Annie: I feel by now I should probably have a warm up routine, but if I’m honest, I don’t. If I’m warming up for a crit, I would definitely jump on a turbo. I’m not known for my roller riding skills. I would much prefer to warm up on the road or on the circuit as I just find it easier to really gauge how the legs feel and get the heart rate up. I don’t usually use music either.


7. What’s your favourite discipline on the road; road racing/crits/time trials?
Annie: I do love a Crit. I enjoy the speed and technical side of it, the more corners the better in my eyes. But I am starting to really enjoy road racing too now I have adapted my training. A mix of the both is best. But Time Trials, not a fan!

8. When will you start training for 2017 and what comes first – long steady miles or a mix of miles and efforts?
Annie: I have been mixing my winter training with racing cyclo-cross. It actually works quite well for me as it keeps me focused throughout the winter. I don’t race every weekend, so during the weeks off racing, I focus on the longer rides and longer efforts, whereas leading into a race, I back off on the hours and do some more short sharp training. My race season kicks off quite early in 2017 so winter training started back in October for me.

9. What are the goals for 2017?
Annie: The first goals lie in the Classics season. I want to be in the best possible shape to support Alice (Barnes) during the first part of the season. I think the hard one day races will suit me and they are what I am thinking about at the moment. To be on the start line of the Tour of Flanders would be a dream so I want to earn my selection for that. The Tour Series is another goal for me, the series means a lot to me after winning it in the past and I want to be going well for that too.

10. Does winter training consist only of riding the bike or running/swimming/gym work (cross training)?
Annie: Apart from a bit of cyclo cross, I also do quite a bit of gym work in the winter. I am lucky as at OTE Sports where I work we have our own private gym so I can easily fit this into my training week. Working on my core and general power has worked well for me in the past with mountain biking so I am interested to see whether it will have the same effect on the road.


11. What have you learnt over the years to best deal with the winter months on a bike!
Annie: I wish I could book a flight and leave the country like a lot of other cyclists do but unfortunately I have a full time job so that isn’t possible. Good kit helps massively, especially gloves & overshoes which we are lucky to have Prendas to help with. Also, having a group to ride with can get you out the door and really raise morale. I am lucky that where I live, there is so many people to train with, it never feels so bad taking on the wind and rain when you aren’t on your own. If it gets really bad, switching to the mountain bike can really help. Everything certainly feels a lot warmer!

12. Finally, what was the best thing about riding for Drops in 2016?
Annie: The best thing has been the people. The riders and staff, the enthusiasm of Team Director Bob Varney. I have made some fantastic friends, had so many laughs, made some amazing memories and I can’t wait to do it all again in 2017. Plus I have found myself back racing at a high level, which I honestly never thought would happen again, so that made me pretty happy too.2016_ShuttVeloRapideAdvert



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