Q & A: Hannah Larbalestier (Sunsport Velo WRT)

In this VeloUK Q & A, Hannah Larbalestier of Sunsport Velo WRT tells us of her 2016 highlights and 2017 goals

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Q & A: Hannah Larbalestier (Sunsport Velo WRT)

Hannah Larbalestier (Sunsport Velo WRT), sponsored by Brother UK, has just completed her first season of racing self-supported and says of getting a ride in Sunsport Velo WRT “I’m really excited to see what a difference the coaching from Sunsport will have on my performance”.

“We’re also incredibly lucky to be riding Cervelo bikes next year with Edco wheels, so new-bike-day is going to be very special this year!”

1. How did you get into cycle racing?
Hannah: I competed in triathlon for seven years but wasn’t really aware of the cycling racing scene until I started riding with the cycling club at University of Bath.

I tried my hand at a few crits back in 2014, alongside competing at an age-group level in triathlon, before taking a year out of competition on my placement year. Having plateaued in triathlon, I decided to focus on cycling in 2016 and haven’t looked back.

2. What’s your favourite discipline in cycling?
Hannah: I love the technical aspect of crit racing, particularly in town centre races, which are generally more technical and attract a good crowd.

3. What is the best thing about bike racing?
Hannah: I love how I can push my limits more than I realise is possible when I’m racing. And how a mental game is so important, e.g. for planning your race, for executing a sprint and so on. It’s so rewarding when it all comes together on race day; the perfect race happens so rarely, and I think that’s why it’s so addictive.

4. What was the highlight of 2016 for you and why?
Hannah: Getting on the Sunsport Velo roster of course! That, and receiving a PhD scholarship in Neuroscience at the University Sheffield… choice of location was primarily for the awesome cycling terrain!

5. What was your favourite/most fun race of 2016
Hannah: The Ilkley (Yorkshire) races was my highlight. The course is a lot of fun, with a punchy 30m of ascent for every 1.5km lap, and a fast descent. As a result of a rubbish starting position I was at the back from the start, and picked off riders throughout the race, with no idea where I was positioned at the finish. To come 4th, with Drops and Ford Ecoboost dominating, was a nice surprise result!

6. What was the toughest race of 2016 for you and why?
Hannah: Manchester Wheeler’s 2-day was a challenging race. I’d never competed in such a large field for a crit before, which made it incredibly hard to move up the bunch on such a tight circuit, but I pleased myself with 9th place. The road race on day 2 was also brutal, with the field thinning from 40 to 14 within the first half lap; I was gutted to puncture two laps in after holding it with the front pack for so long.

7. If there was one thing you learned most in 2016 to help you go faster/better, what was that?
Hannah: Unfortunately I don’t have a magic bullet for getting faster on the bike. The more you put in in training, the more you get out.

8. What is the best piece of equipment (clothing/bike/gadget) to do with racing you are proud of most?
Hannah: My bike, a 2nd hand Specialized Ruby which I’ve had since 2009, has seen me through all of my races. I’m pretty proud to be able to compete against girls with bikes that are worth 5x as much and still get a respectable result! That said, I’m extremely excited to be racing on a Cervelo next year, equipped with Edco wheels. I can’t wait to see what a difference it will make.
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9. What is your warm up routine for races – rollers or turbo? Music or no music?
Hannah: Preferably, I get out on the road, as it keeps the nerves at bay. Otherwise I’ll put my iPod on shuffle if I’m on the turbo or rollers.

10. Will you stay in the UK to prepare for next season during the winter or get in a training camp or two abroad to get in some serious miles?
Hannah: I’m in the lab full-time, so, much to my distaste, I’m having to make a lot of use of the turbo. However I’m planning on heading to Spain for a week in January to get some sunny miles in.

11. When will you start training for 2017 and what comes first – long steady miles or a mix of miles and efforts?
Hannah: I started training at the start of November after two weeks off. At the moment, I’m doing a lot of cadence work on the turbo, but also getting out for some longer miles at weekends.

12. What are the goals for 2017?
Hannah: As a crit lover, I’d love to achieve some top-10’s at the Pearl Izumi Tour Series. I’m also looking forward to some longer distance road racing, and a bit of racing overseas.

13. Does winter training consist only of riding the bike or running/swimming/gym work (cross training)
Hannah: Mostly cycling, but I’ve started doing more core and flexibility work alongside. I tried my first yoga session the other day, and can see that becoming part of my regular routine.

14. Finally, what have you learnt over the years to best deal with the winter months on a bike!
Hannah: Investing in some good winter kit and a set of mudguards is a must! I couldn’t live without my Gabba but I also swear by Aldi’s £5 gloves.



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