Feature Q&A: Leah Dixon (Womens VTour winner)

Winner in 2019 of the Tour of Reservoir, and on the podium at the Tour of Yorkshire, winner of the 2020 Women’s V-Tour Leah Dixon gives us an insight into her eRacing

Feature Q&A: Leah Dixon (Womens VTour winner)

Leah Dixon was winner of the Women’s V Tour but also on the podium on a stage of the Tour de Yorkshire 

Q: Did you do any races for your new team in 2020 at all?
Leah: I was lucky enough to go out to the US in February for Team TIBCO – Silicon Valley Bank’s team camp and then I competed in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Omloop Van Het Hagenland and Le Samyn. They didn’t really go to plan but I did learn a lot in my four days to date 2020 race season.

Q: Was the Women’s Tour win your biggest eRacing victory and a career highlight?
Leah: Yes, the Womens Tour is my biggest eRacing win and an eRacing career highlight. It’s given me a lot of confidence that I am in good shape and hopefully with a lot more experience and hardwork I can apply some of this form to road racing.

Q: Did you have a strategy for the final stage to hold on to the jersey and what was the key moment?
Leah: The strategy was mostly exactly that … to hold on! Stage 3 was fast and furious from the start and I was giving it everything to hold on to the lead group. The good news was that both my team mates were also in the lead group and Kristen was in second place on GC so that definitely alleviated some of the pressure!

Winning the Tour of Reservoir in 2019 solo

Q: What is your set up for eRacing?
Leah: I use my Cannondale Supersix, 4iii power meter and a smart trainer plus two fans, or 3 fans if you include Jacob.

Q: How do you keep cool and hydrated with e-racing?
Leah: I normally have two fans on and make sure my bottles have SIS Hydrotabs plus energy, then if I’m really keen, I’ll use some icey water to cool myself down with.

Q: Do you have a set warm up for eRacing?
Leah: I don’t have a set warm up. I normally just spend around 15/20mins going through the zones and getting a sweat on… it depends how much time I have really! And if all else fails, the sprint out of the gate tends to warm you up pretty quickly!

Q: Have you had to train specifically for eRacing and is this different to training from normal races?
Leah: I haven’t trained specifically for e-racing. I’ve used the time we’ve had since lockdown started to ride more on the road and work on my weaknesses. I’ve fitted e-racing in around this. There’s also no sheep or pigs to take photos with on the online platforms, only a few lizards in the desert!

Q: How much of your training is on the road vs turbo?
Leah: When I had a full time job, I trained on a turbo Monday – Friday and road rides on the weekend. Now that I work reduced hours, I spend more time on the road than turbo. I would say this year, I’ve probably only been on the turbo when the weather is poor or to race.

Q: How long have you been racing online?
Leah: I started racing online in late 2018. I think eracing is a great training tool and great for motivation. On the days where I’d had a bad day at work or was just tired and not really wanting to train, I would just jump in a race instead. It’s a relatively easy way to get a good work out and also a lot of fun!

Q: How often do you do e-races?
Leah: This year, I’ve mostly just done specific races so since lockdown I’ve done ‘Tour for All’ on Zwift and Women’s Tour on ‘RGT’ plus a few races to prepare for those. Last winter, I probably raced on Zwift at least once a week, probably more.

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Q: What has been the hardest skill to learn for e-races?
Leah: The hardest skills to learn is the fast start. You have to make sure you are up to speed before the start of the race and to keep going as it will eventually settle down. I also find it difficult to regulate my effort and spend a lot of time either yo-yoing up and down the bunch or too much time on the front. Like racing on the road, it’s also really important to know the course to know when to put your efforts in. I’ve been dropped many a time by attacking before a climb because I didn’t know about the climb.

Q: Riders suffer various mechanicals to do with internet and other connections – has this happened to you and if so, do power drops happen often?
Leah: Mechanicals due to internet and connections are really unfortunate and I really feel for people when this happens! There is nothing worse than doing a really hard effort for a period of time and then have your avatar park up on the side of the road and not move! I’ve been very fortunate with this. I had a drop out in the test race for Women’s Tour after 30km and I’ve had a few drop outs in Zwift races but nothing major.

Q: Does your trade team have races lined up for the end of the season and if so are you keen to do them or nervous to start competing again?
Leah: Yes, I’m really excited to start racing again. I feel like I’ve done two winters this year. I’ve spent a lot of time in this period focusing on my weaknesses so I am looking forward to seeing how I’ve improved when we start racing. I’m also really looking forward to being reunited with my team mates!

Q: Where do you do most of your outdoor training and what is your favourite route?
Leah: I live in Derby now so do most of my training in the surrounding area. My favourite route is anything that goes through Chatsworth House…. it’s so beautiful! And there’s also lots of sheep!

Q: Finally, what do you put your powerful climbing down to, practice or natural ability?
Leah: I’m not sure about my ‘climbing’ yet as I haven’t really worked out what type of rider I am. I think I’d probably put it down to spending a lot of time segment hunting on climbs!

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