Feature: Joey Walker (Madison Genesis)

British Criterium champion Joey Walker of Madison Genesis will be racing for Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK in 2020 – we chat about his season in 2019

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Feature: Joey Walker (Madison Genesis)

Currently riding the Tour of Britain which he said before the start he expected to be a hard, grippy race, Joey Walker, currently racing for Madison Genesis, it’s been revealed, will ride for Cherie Pridham at Vitus Pro Cycling p/b Brother UK in 2020.

With Madison Genesis bowing out of the sport at the end of 2019, a lot of the riders in the team are retiring but there are still riders in that squad like Joey, 22 on the 15th, who still have a lot of racing in the legs to be done.

Chatting to Joey the night before the Tour of Britain started, he explained how this season has been a good one for him. “Winning the stripes in the circuit race was the highlight of it though” he added. “I found myself going well in the crits again this year carrying on from last year (Sheffield & Colne victories in 2018) and looking ahead to 2020, that is what I will be focusing on and trying to get even more wins than this year”.

Asked about other highlights of 2019, he replies “the Tour de Yorkshire without a doubt. I always love doing that race, and getting in the break on the last day there was a big highlight for me. The race on the Isle of Man too was highlight with everyone in the team pulling together and helping Matt (Holmes) out for the win. I feel we did a great job there, keeping things under control and it was a good weekend with the team, nice and positive.”

I put it to Joey that 2019 showed everyone that his wins in 2018 were no flukes and that he has what it takes to win the big races like the Tour Series round at Durham this year. “Last year I won them two races (Sheffield/Colne) and beforehand hadn’t really expected to so to win more again this year confirms that I’m not bad at these crits and is what I am good at. That’s why I need to focus on them even more next year.”

With the circuit races a big part of the British calendar, Joey says he expects to have to split the season into sections like the Tour Series and the crits and then the big road races like the Tour de Yorkshire and Tour of Britain. “It is a difficult job to do because you can never be fully flying in the crits without sacrificing the form for road races either so there is balance to be made there which we’ll work on”.

Joey has certainly showed how brilliant he is in the crits but what about the road races, is getting some results in them a goal as well? “I’d say so” he says. “I feel like I have the race craft to know where to be in a road race, it’s just coming to the end of a road race, I need that final power and strength to contest the wins.”

“Another hard graft of winter and I can try and get better in the road races. It may come with age and click in next year but I’m still trying to get better at it and move up a level”.

A hard winter on the road has been made easier with is parents moving to Spain. “That is definitely going to make it better! I can go over there, see them and put in some good miles!”

The winter training though is still a way off for Joey. He’s on the long list for the Worlds in his home county of Yorkshire and would love to race in his home Worlds but has to wait until the Tour of Britain ends before knowing whether he has made the under 23 team. So when his season finishes hinges on that selection.

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Either way, come October he’s off on holiday for a month and then returns to a steady start to his training which will get progressively harder as the winter months go by.

Getting out on the bike though will be mentally easier knowing he has a team for 2020. “When so many teams are folding and your team folds, it cracks you a bit but you have to remember why you are doing it and carry on” says Joey. “I was lucky though to sign early on for Cherie (Vitus Pro Cycling) and it just helped me relax then and concentrate on the rest of the year with Madison Genesis. I have been through a winter without a team before and the motivation to get out is not nice”.

Finally, looking ahead to next season. Being a rider who can win races, automatically brings the pressure of leading a team in races onto a rider’s shoulders. Asked if there are specific events he’d like to do well in next year with the team, Joey says “”I want to do well in every crit I ride and the Tour of Yorkshire of course. It would be great to win a Prem next year and I have made that a personal target. I’m at an age when I should be able to win one.”

“If there’s a race and Cherie wants me to be the leader, then I’ll definitely step up to the plate. I have never had it where a team has ridden for me so it would be something new but I’d welcome it with open arms and it would be exciting”.

“There is pressure in everything in cycling, even just getting selected for events and then when you get that place in a race, you have the pressure of feeling like you need to perform to honour that selection so all you can do is get stuck in and try your best. If you do that and come up short, no-one can argue that you weren’t committed.

And pressure is something Joey knows only too well when he turned up at Sheffield this year. “That was double pressure” he says “being in the stripes and being in front of a home crowd too after winning last year. Once we got racing though, I really enjoyed it and was really proud to have the stripes on my back”.

We certainly look forward to seeing those stripes in action in 2020 … thank you Joey for the chat. Fingers crossed for a place at the Worlds!..




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