Q&A: Elizabeth Holden

Star Interview! Third in the British Women’s Road Race Championships & second in the Under 23 TT Championship, Lizzie Holden has a new team for 2020, Bizkaia Durango and is looking forward to a different and challenging race programme

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Q&A: Elizabeth Holden

A new team for 2020, tells us about this team which has had a few Brits riding for it of late?
Lizzie: I’m excited to further my experience with Bizkaia Durango in 2020. They are a Basque based team and I’ve heard that the cycling culture is crazy in the Basque Country. I can’t wait to experience this at races. The team has been together since 2005 and they’ve had some big names such as Emma Johansson and Shara Gillow pass through the team. They have a really strong race programme too, including the Giro Rosa.

What do you hope signing for a new team will bring you in 2020?
Lizzie: The race programme is pretty different, but one that I think will suit me, so I’m excited for this change. I also think it will be slightly outside my comfort zone, which I really think will push me onto the next level. Also, with it being a Basque/Spanish team, I’m hoping they’ll be able to help me improve my Spanish!

You are based in Girona? What are the key plus points about living there?
Lizzie: It has pretty much everything you need (apart from Cadbury chocolate). Firstly the weather, it’s amazing pretty much all year round. I rode today with my arms & legs out in November! The roads are beautiful too. You can ride all day on the flat or head out to the hills or mountains. Even the mountain biking around Girona is incredible!

You also have pretty much everything you need right at your doorstep, like supermarkets, shopping, cafes etc. You don’t really need a car for anything. The amount of English people/bike riders here is also really nice too. It makes it feel less like a foreign environment, and you know there’s always someone who can help with pretty much anything.

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Good chain gangs there in Girona?
Lizzie: You can always find somebody to ride with here, and whatever level you want! I must say though, it has nothing on the daily Isle of Man club rides, where you can have between 3 or 30 people show up rain or shine (mostly rain!).

Was riding for a UCI team a key goal for 2020
Lizzie: I think to continue progressing my development, I need the races and support that a UCI team gives, so this was very important to me. Bizkaia have a really wide ranging programme from 1.2’s to WWT which I really like, as you actually get a chance to race.

What role do you expect to play in the team in 2020
Lizzie: I’m hoping to be one of the leaders for certain races next year. The team has a lot of strong girls so, I’m also looking forward to supporting the other girls in races when necessary. When the leader alternates and the team is always committed to the plan, it’s great to be apart of.

In the time you have been racing, have you seen changes in the Women’s UCI racing
Lizzie: It’s certainly a lot harder these days! It’s raced so aggressively now, and I think this is helped by the increase in TV coverage as it motivates us to ride harder. The races are becoming better in terms of organisation and safety, particularly when we are racing the same races as the men’s peloton.

Are there more and more Brits in the UCI race peloton?
Lizzie: There’s definitely more and more Brits in the UCI peloton, which is really good to see. It isn’t surprising as the level in the UK has grown so much since I’ve started racing. I haven’t been able to do many British races this year, but the ones I have done, there has been so many more girls on the start line, and they’re so much harder than I remember!

What was the highlight of the 2019 season for you?
Lizzie: My highlight would be winning the young riders jersey in Giro del Toscana at the end of the year. It was my first time doing the race, and it was motivating to end the year on a high. The British National Road and Time Trial Champs were also a highlight of my year though, and I was very happy with my results! To be on the podium in both events alongside world class riders was very humbling and motivating for the future.

What was the most fun/enjoyable race in 2019?
Lizzie: For me, it was the European Road Race Championships in Holland. It’s always an amazing feeling to wear your national jersey. It’s also the only race during the year that is just for Under 23 women, so it felt so different but it was such a good feeling to be able to race and be aggressive with girls in the same age bracket as me.

What was the toughest race in 2019 and why?
Lizzie: Tour de Yorkshire stage 2 for sure!! I think a lot of people would have this as their answer. Yorkshire has brutal roads to start with, but when you throw in freezing temperatures, rain, hail and strong winds, it makes for one of the hardest days on the bike that I can remember. It was one of those days where you need to warm up before taking anything off because you physically can’t move. At the same time, it was one of the best races of the year.

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Was there one thing you learned in 2019 that stands out?
Lizzie: Always start in more clothes than you need! It’s a lot easier to take layers off & back to the car to cool down, than to try and put more layers on once you’re already freezing – it’s too late!

When does the serious training begin this winter?
Lizzie: I got back on the bike on the 4th November, so just some shortish rides/group rides, and also a few mtb rides for now, to slowly build up my base fitness over the winter. I’ll probably pick up more hours/efforts into the middle of December/January and build up to my first race which will most likely be sometime in February.

Is your winter training structured from day to day or a mix of riding the bike for fun and then getting serious with top end work on specific days?
Lizzie: It’s planned by my coach, so it is structured. During the week I will usually have shorter rides with maybe some low intensity efforts, then on the weekends longer but usually harder rides. At the same time it’s pretty flexible, so if one day I feel like doing extra/less it’s not an issue. Or some days, if I feel like doing a MTB ride to mix things up, I can do that too.

Is there an effort in training that you dread having to do?
Lizzie: I don’t really dread any efforts in training… but I do dread the 20min FTP test, I actually get nervous for it! The longest 20minutes of my life!

When you expect your 2020 season to begin ….
Lizzie: I think the team’s first race will be a one day, Vuelta CV Feminas, in Valencia. So I think it will either be that or Vuelta Castellon, a 3 day race in Valencia at the end of February.

Finally, what races in 2020 are ones you really want to work towards being part of.
Lizzie: I would really love to race San Sebastian. It’s such a historic race, and it looks like a really beautiful part of the world! Alongside some of the other Basque races which I have never done, such as Durango-Durango and Vuelta a Burgos. Then also the Giro Rosa, it’s probably the biggest/hardest women’s race of the year. I have ridden it once, so it would be good to go back and hopefully see some progression!

Thank you Lizzie and Good Luck in 2020! 


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