Q&A: Sophie Lankford (Alba Team)

Currently racing the British track championships in Wales, VeloUK quizes Sophie Lankford of the Alba Development Road Team who we see a lot in National Series events

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Q&A: Sophie Lankford (Alba Team)

Currently racing the British track championships in Wales, VeloUK quizes Sophie Lankford of the Alba Development Road Team who we see a lot in National Series events

Sophie racing more crits, this time on the Isle of Man in the Manx International Event

Q: How has been your winter’s training with the freezing weather in December – ie, has it been productive and have you focused on riding outdoors or sticking to the turbo inside where its dry?
Sophie: I’ve been on the turbo a lot this winter as the weather in the east of Scotland hasn’t been very inviting.

Q: What is the biggest challenge training in the winter for you? IE, is it finding time to train in daylight hours? The weather? etc etc
Sophie: I’m currently studying Medicine at St Andrews, so I do struggle to find time to train in daylight hours. However, I manage to get over to Glasgow every so often and train at the velodrome with Scottish Cycling where it’s nice and dry, or I’ll be on the turbo.

Q: Do you get to train with others in the winter or is mainly solo?
Sophie: I tend to train solo, sometimes it’s a nice way to relax away from the work and just think about training, but I also do love to ride with people and have a good chat.

Q: What performances of yours in 2022 during the season help motivate you during the winter?
Sophie: Normally I try to look forward to the races that are coming up and use those as motivation for the season ahead.

Q: Also, the team had some great results in 2022, so which ones do you look back on fondly to provide that motivation to be at your best in 2023?
Sophie: Our performance at the Tour Series in 2022 – we were learning about each others riding and racing styles (since we were a new team that year) and everything started to come together; I hope we can build on that.

Sophie racing the Tour Series

Q: What was the best result/performance of yours in 2022?
Sophie: Track Nationals last year, getting 4th in the IP with a big PB was probably the highlight for me, and then racing the National Madison championships, which was my first madison race was pretty thrilling, albeit a bit daunting!

Q: What were the things you learned in 2022 at races that you feel will help you in 2023?
Sophie: I think the racing style has changed over the years. The whole racing field is a lot stronger so you have to be smart with how you race and communicate well. For us, I think it really helps that we all get on together, so we can communicate and work effectively as a team.

Q: Being a Scottish team, how have you found the travel to events in 2022 – ie, are they restful or hard work?
Sophie: There was a lot of travel last year, but myself and the whole team are very grateful for our team manager Bob, chief soigneur Elaine and mechanic Matt, who help massively in and out of races – we are simply passenger princesses on those drives.

Q: What event was the most fun to do?
Sophie: On the track, it was the Madison, it’s definitely something I want to do more of. On the road, it’s the Tour Series – because the crowds are great and it’s nice to have the variety in circuits.

Q: What are the silliest things you remember from races in 2022?
Sophie: Before Clacton Tour Series, three (out of four) of us fell into a ford on the pre-race ride – it was a bit of a damp ride home but looking back it was very funny!

Q: There was racing in Scotland in the Tour Series and British champs, for those racing them, was there extra motivation being in Scotland?
Sophie: Having those races was very motivating and you can hear the support from the crowd backing the team. However, it does often bring the typical Scottish weather, as we experienced at the National road race championships in 2022.

Q: What are the key positives about being part of a team racing national events and being in the mix at the sharp end? Things like being part of the team at the event, the banter, getting to race with the best in the country, etc.
Sophie: I love being part of this team. We all get on well and have similar aspirations with racing. We all have different strengths, and everyone is willing to learn and help out, which really brings cohesion to the group. All in all, it’s a very supportive team, which makes training and racing worth it.

Sophie racing the British Road Race Championships in Scotland, the toughest race of the year

Q: What was the toughest bike race you did in 2022?
Sophie: National road race championships in 2022 – there was so much rain and I remember at one point the peloton nearly coming to a standstill due to the driving wind. It was very gruelling and an achievement to just finish it!

Q: When are you aiming to begin racing in 2023?
Sophie: I start with the National Track Championships at the end of January (currently in progress).

Q: Do you find the off season without racing a good thing or a boring part of the year?
Sophie: I do track during the Winter, so still do a bit of racing.

Q: Finally, what are your key goals for 2023?
Sophie: Having a great season with the team is my main goal for 2023 and building from where we left off last year!

Good luck in your races in 2023 and look forward to seeing you at many of them – thank you Sophie!


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