Q&A: Sophie Lankford (Alba Dev RT)

Another question and answer feature, this time with new Alba Development Team rider,  Sophie Lankford who now lives in Glasgow who came into cycling after seeing the London 2012 Olympics.

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Q&A: Sophie Lankford (Alba Dev RT)

Another question and answer feature, this time with new Alba Development Team rider,  Sophie Lankford who now lives in Glasgow who came into cycling after seeing the London 2012 Olympics and has now been racing for nine years. 

Q: How did you come to race bikes?
Sophie: I did a few triathlons when I was younger but was predominantly a swimmer until I was 16. After watching the London 2012 time trial, I was hooked and did my first TT that evening.

Sophie winning at Bristol – photo John Pierce Photosport Int.

Q: Starting a new season in a new team with a very distinctive look – what are the goals for 2022 wearing the new colours and what’s the most exciting thing for you joining the new team?
Sophie: Personally, I’m looking to get back to 2019 form and then some, so some podiums are on my wish list! The aim is to get the team name out there and show everyone what we can do as a team. With the team, I’m most looking forward to the atmosphere and the support we’ll give each other before, during and after races. We have a really great set-up, and I can’t wait to get racing with everyone in 2022.

Q: How difficult was 2020 with little racing and socialising with cycling friends or did it give you time to reset, refresh and focus on 2021?
Sophie: 2020 was very difficult without racing, especially after having a great season in 2019 but I used the time away from racing to focus on my Masters degree in Oncology. It has been great to catch up with cycling friends again in 2021 after not seeing some people for nearly two years!

Q: Do you think you came out of 2020 stronger, the same or less strong as you were before that season of no road races?
Sophie: I definitely trained less in 2020 compared to 2019, as I found it hard without races to motivate me, and only did a couple of track races and TTs. Unfortunately, I was very ill at the beginning of 2021, taking nearly five months away from training, so it’s been a tough road back.

Q: What was the highlight of your racing in 2021?
Sophie: The National Circuit Championships in Lincoln was the highlight of 2021 for me. The atmosphere of the nocturne-style criterium was absolutely fantastic and the course was relentless with cobbles and slight uphills. After really struggling in the Tour Series this year, I was really pleased to come 14th and be one of the few finishers of the circuit champs.

Q: What race in your career is the one that still gives you the biggest buzz and motivation when out training in the cold and damp?
Sophie: Winning the first round of the 2019 National Circuit Series is a great memory, so when I’m lacking that bit of motivation, I sometimes re-watch the final lap to remind me of that feeling that I strive for.

Q: What’s the furthest you have traveled for a bike race in 2021 and is travel a chore or a joy (seeing pastures new) to do when going to a bike race?
Sophie: There have been fewer travel days this year but maybe the Curlew Cup (Stamfordham) or the Castle Douglas round of the Tour Series. I enjoy the travel when I know I’ll have time to relax before the race but on-the-day travel is a bit stressful if you’re travelling solo.

Q: How much training (hours and/or days) do you do in a given week in the winter and how does that differ from the summer when you are racing?
Sophie: I currently have a track focus for the winter, so training hours really vary. During the summer, I do less track and have more race days and I also tend to select early season races as “training races”.

Q: Do you train on a training bike or a race bike …
Sophie: Currently training on a training bike – I think I’d have a guilty conscience if I subjected my race bike to the winter conditions!

Q: Do you cross train at all (running, swimming, gym or other disciplines like MTB)
Sophie: I do gym but also keep that going during the summer. I’d love to pick up MTB or maybe have a bit of fun on a gravel or cyclocross bike, but I’d have to get my hands on one of those first!

Q: Where is your favourite training ride?
Sophie: I enjoy any training rides that have a good view or good company (or both). There’s a really nice hilly ride into the Derbyshire Dales that goes around Carsington Water, but now I’m in Glasgow, I need to explore some new routes.

Sophie (left) with her new teammates

Q: What type of race suits you best?
Sophie: I love criterium races because they are so relentless. So, any race where you are really pushing the limit – so I like track racing too.

Q: Of the races you have done so far, what is the most enjoyable even on the British calendar?
Sophie: If I’m being honest, any race that has a supportive and loud crowd – so maybe the Tour Series, they’re always a lot of fun.

Q: What will be the one big race you really want to be part of in 2022?
Sophie: The Commonwealth Games track events.

Q: Finally, who do you want to thank for helping you get to this point in your cycling career
Sophie: My parents, for getting me started, I wouldn’t be where I am without them and my first club, Cambridge Triathlon. And a big thanks to Bob and Elaine and the sponsors of Alba Road Team, I’m really looking forward to 2022!


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