Interview: April Tacey (eRacer of the Year)

Voted eRacer of the year, April Tacey will be racing on the road next year for Drops and after an injury hit year, is looking to be back to her best in 2021

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Interview: April Tacey (eRacer of the Year)

Voted eRacer of the year, April Tacey will be racing on the road next year for Drops and after an injury hit year, is looking to be back to her best in 2021 with the help of the coaches at trainSharp.

Earlier this year, cooking up a great Tour de France virtual win in her kitchen was 19 year old April Tacey (Drops cycling) who made history by being the winner of the first stage of the Virtual Women’s Tour de France. If was just the lift she needed after breaking her knee at the end of 2019 and during a year when she had little opportunity to race outside of her home.

Asked about her non selection for Great Britain for the recent eRacing Worlds, April explained “I was not selected by GB for the worlds but I did get a wildcard from Zwift but to be eligible to race the eRacing Worlds, you have to have a biological passport which I haven’t got. You had to be on it by the 16th of October and they told me after that date so there was nothing I could do. I messaged British Cycling and they said they were not adding any riders to the rider pool. I was bit gutted but little I could do about it. It is a shame, and the same thing happened to others.”

Quite ironic that the rider voted eRacer of the year was not able to compete in the worlds but the award certainly pleased the young lady in Leicestershire. “Super happy to have received this award, thank you to everyone that voted for me” was her reaction on Twitter. Even better news for the up and coming young rider from Leicestershire, is that April will be racing for British UCI team Drops next year and April admits with the team’s new sponsors, she is very excited for next year.”

Having a spot in the team however means there’s a lot of hard work to do after more surgery on her knee in August. “I had a second operation to get the metal out of my knee in August because I’d broken the metal in a time trial because I was spinning out too much. So I had to have an emergency operation on that. After the surgery, I did steady miles for six weeks and then re-joined trainSharp and training is going pretty well. I feel just as strong now as I did before.”

Being injured can be a mentally stressful time for riders but the saving grace for April was that because there was no racing, her injury did not affect her racing on the road. “My team could not ride the big races at the end of the year so I have been lucky and unlucky; unlucky in breaking my knee but lucky I have not missed too much racing. I was able to focus on recovering and not having to rush back to racing which was something I was worried about having to do. I have been happy to recover at my own pace and feel like I’m just as good as I was before.”

“It wasn’t so bad mentally because there wasn’t much racing. If there had been racing, I would have missed it a lot but and I was just focused on recovering and getting the strength back in my leg. It’s all better now and it is nearly back to maximum strength. I have been doing a lot of one legged squats just to even my legs out as I’d lost a lot of muscle. I can now put my full weight on it now so it’s all good.”

Having the metal removed from her knee has also helped her riding. “I feel much better now the metal is out because before, when I got out of the saddle when riding, I felt restricted but now all the metal has been removed I can put full power out.”

April says she has never had any knee issues before and feels quite lucky in not having too many other injuries other than scrapes and abrasions. “My broken knee was my most serious injury and now I just want to get back into racing because I think when I am back racing, the worry will go. I’m worried how the start of the season will go but I am sure once I am back in the bunch again, I’ll quickly adapt to it again.”

With winter training laying ahead of her, there is plenty to motivate April. “The classics are my targets so I want to do well in the one day races. I would like to do all the courses and get a feel for what they are like because it will be my first year racing at that level because I never got to race this year.”

When we spoke in late November, April explained “training isn’t too full on (November) yet and I am just trying to do some miles as well as some longer efforts. I do a turbo session a week and some rides at the weekend too.” Asked what type of drills she does in training, April replies “I am doing low cadence efforts on a Tuesday and do longer ten minute efforts on Sundays.”

One of the advantages April has is that riding the bike on the turbo doesn’t phase her at all. “If it’s chucking it down, I don’t mind doing two or three hours on the turbo. I stick some headphones on with some music and I have Zwift in front of me as well because my ‘Today’s Plan’ training is connected to Zwift so that comes up on screen and powers me in my efforts and tells me what power I need to do.”

April’s coaching comes from trainSharp who set her training each week. “Every ride I do, I put some comments on what I have done, my sleep and resting heart rate in the days metrics on the app and if I have something I need to talk about, I Whatsapp my coach Alex and we chat through things.”

Asked if after the injury, April is working on her weaknesses, she replies “not much yet but I think I will be chatting with them about what to build on for the winter. I need to build up my sprint as I had a good sprint before but when I had my second surgery, I lost that power as all I have been doing is steady riding.”

April explains that her training will change as racing gets ever closer. “My efforts will gradually increase and when the racing is upon us, I expect to be doing more threshold riding, sprints and all that”. The aim doing them will be to set new PBs in training too like her one minute power, five minute, and ten minute powers with April saying that “you are aiming to get PBs to show you are progressing”.

With racing expected in 2021, April is well motivated and says “if all goes to plan, we’ll have a team camp in February and then hopefully we’ll go straight to Valencia again so I am really focused on getting back to racing”.

April is also focused on not taking risks on the damp roads as she now knows just how much hard work there is to get back her fitness after a serious injury. We wish her lots of luck for the new year and to keep it rubber side down and stay safe! Thank you April.

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