Feature Chat: Hayley Simmonds

Third in the Hill Climb Championships, Hayley Simmonds has had a long and successful season – we chatted post race

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Feature Chat: Hayley Simmonds

Third in the Hill Climb Championships, Hayley Simmonds has had a long and successful season – we chatted post race

Winner of the Circuit championships as well as the 10 and 25 championships in 2017, Hayley Simmonds was one of the big favourites for the 2017 Hill Climb championship but after a long season on the road, the win at the Hill Climb Championships eluded her and with only a few seconds between the top three riders, it was a very competitive championship as expected.

Hayley admitted she was happy with the ride for third and even happier that she now has three weeks rest before getting back on the treadmill of being a pro bike rider. “I was only a few seconds off and I knew Jos (Joscelin Lowden) was going to be hard to beat as she has done a lot of hill climbs in the last month and been going really well”.

Looking for an insight into whether it was more a time trial than hill climb explosive effort, Hayley replied “there were a lot of gradient changes and a lot of steep sections so it was definitely more of a hill climb. For me, I’d prefer it to be 10 or 15 minutes long, two to three miles on a climb like Haytor or Horsehoe Pass; that would be great for me as that’s more like a time trial.”

“The shorter something gets, the more I struggle because I am not a sprinter and have more of a diesel engine. That said, I like the hill climb because the atmosphere is great with the crowd at the top spurring you on when all you want to do is stop!”

Having been in the crowd and seen the narrow space left for them to race in, I asked Hayley was that scary? “A little and the noise can be so loud too it can be intimidating but it does help having that support at the top. It was like the support on Salmon Hill in Bergen (Road Worlds), which was kind of nuts but it helps!”
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Asked if she felt some pressure to win based on all the titles and comp records Hayley has to her name, the WNT rider replied “a little bit. Hill Climbing is not something I do that much of and have only done two others this year and only two because it was a double header event. So I never know how I am really going to go.”

“I don’t have the dedicated hill climb bike or do all the things that some of the others do like cutting their bars in half and drilling holes in saddles. I took the bar tape off and had some lighter wheels but I don’t have the lightest bike and so maybe I could do more if I was really really targeting winning something like this. But I do feel pressure because people expect me to do well.”

“I would like to have won though too! I always like to win and don’t enter things not wanting to win.”

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Riding for UCI Pro Team WNT, Hayley admits it’s been a long season and the last three weeks has seen her have three very different events with a lot of travel. A 26 kilometre time trial, a four hour race up a mountain and then a five minute hill climb all post road worlds. “If I was really targeting this, I may have done the last few weeks differently but to be honest I am happy with things.”

Hayley on the way to winning the 10 champs recently

“I have found the last few weeks hard but I have enjoyed the events I have done and going to different countries.”

More travel is on the horizon as well as Hayley looks forward to 2018 already. “I have three weeks off before I start gearing up to try and be at the Commonwealth Games. I can’t really have any more than three weeks off if I want to be in peak form for April.”

Looking back at Hayley’s season, she has progressed from being a noted time trialist to more of an all-round road rider, something she is keen to do in her career. An example of that all round nature of her racing was her selection for the World Championship Road Race at Bergen in Norway.

“Bergen was great actually and I think it was probably one of the best female GB performances as a team for a long time and it’s a shame we didn’t get the result the team deserved. The way we rode as a team, I think we deserved a medal but in cycling, things don’t always work out like that.”

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“My role in the race was to try and initiate a break or get in a break; make it quite hard for the first half of the race to begin with. I was still there at the end so my role was continually to get in break until we got something away. GB ended up being present in every move which was impressive. I really enjoyed it and hope people now think of me more as a road rider.”

Hayley went to explained “I am really happy with how my season went though. I won a UCI race, came third on GC, numerous top tens, won three CTT titles, was sixth on a mountain top finish in the Bira stage race and 9th overall; so I hope people can see I can climb too. So okay, it would have been nice to win today but I can’t be disappointed at the season.”

Asked about 2018, Hayley says “First and foremost next year, I want to make the team for the Commonwealth Games in the time trial and road race. And then WNT have a really good international road calendar lined up again. I’d also like to target the Worlds at Innsbruck. It sounds like a really good course – really hilly – it’s brutal but I have been climbing well”.

And climbing well means her power to weight is improving so although Hayley has three weeks off now, she still has to be careful with the cake as she has an upper weight limit to stick to!”

Thank you to Hayley for the chat, enjoyed it a lot and good luck for the training to follow in the winter!



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