Picture: (left to right) Ciara Horne, Elinor Barker and Amy RobertsApart from the Mule Tales I believe it is important to feature all new aspects to cycling. Just as Victoria Pendalton is polishing up her Dance moves the next generation of Velo princess are already on the production line.
Here is a short Interview with the most promising of New Riders
18 year old Amy Roberts is fast making a name for herself in the world of cycling. Having started training for triathlons at the age of 14, within a year she had become the Under-16 Welsh National Cyclo-cross Champions, which also earned her a place on the Olympic Development Programme. Now signed to the Welsh Cycling backed Team USN, she has become part of the team that most recently scooped up the Bronze medal in the Women’s Team Pursuit at the UCI Track World Cup in Mexico.
2012 was Amy’s most successful year to date, seeing her become Junior European Champion in the Team Pursuit and winning her first medal at an elite World Cup; Team USN triumphed with a silver medal.
Elinor Barker, also 18 and currently studying for her A-levels, took up cycling aged 10 to get out of swimming classes.
Fast forward several years, and she is the reigning junior world time trial champion – a title she claimed in 2012. Due to this, she was subsequently crowned Carwyn James Junior Sportswoman of the Year at the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year awards in 2012.
Currently riding on the track for Team USN, she is also in the British Cycling's Olympic Academy Programme, but remains based at home until she has completed her studies.
At the end of February 2013, she became a senior world champion for the first time as a member of the Great Britain Team Pursuit squad at the UCI Track World Championships.
23 year old Ciara Horne, a successful cyclist at international level, rides on the track for Team USN.
Horne began her sporting life at the age of 7 as a swimmer and competed at national level until the age of 16 when she suffered a serious shoulder injury. This prompted her to switch to triathlons, getting onto the world class start programme and competing at Salford Junior world cup where she finished 8th. However, plagued by injuries, Horne found that the majority of her training would be in the form of cycling and her love for the sport was born.
Juggling her physiotherapy degree studies at the University of Birmingham with her rigorous training regime makes Team USN’s achievements, including a Bronze medal in the Team Pursuit at the Mexico Track Cycling World Cup 2013, all the more rewarding.
Q Hi girls, what has been your greatest career achievement in your mind so far?
AR: I haven't got one greatest achievement; as a junior, I was happy to get two individual bronze medals in the Junior World Track Championships and also win the Junior European Team Pursuit title. In my first year as a senior track cyclist, to get a silver and a bronze in the Team Pursuit at the UCI Track World Cups was a major achievement.
CH: Same, getting silver and bronze at Cali and Mexico World Cup plus finishing second overall in the World Cup series for the team pursuit was amazing.
EB: Mine is definitely winning the world title in the Team Pursuit recently in Minsk, Belarus. It just blows everything else out of the water!
Q Elinor, were you prepared to come home to Wales with such a prestigious title?
EB: Not at all! I was concentrating on the process of the event. I wanted to ride a really good Team Pursuit event, which is what I was thinking about that rather than what I would come home with!
Q Now that the track season has come to an end, what are your goals for the summer?
EB: I will be on the road for the summer. I would like to do well in the Omloop van Borsele time trial in the Netherlands, and hopefully get a ride in the Team Time Trial at the World Road Race Championships in Italy in September. It is really close to the start of the 2013/2014 winter track season so not sure if it will be realistic. There are also a lot of good international riders in my road team, such as Emily Collins from New Zealand and Georgia Bronzini from Italy, so there will be a lot of competition before the competition itself!
AR: My main aim for this season is to gain experience and learn from being part of a professional road team (Wiggle-Honda) which has such talented international riders. I will want to help out as much as I can to get results for the team and then maybe later in the season get a result for myself, and do well in the National Road Race and Time Trial.
CH: I have a list of goals for the season, but would particularly like to perform well at the UCI time trials and the British Time Trial championships in June. I'm also keen to retain all my British University Championship titles as it's my final year at the University of Birmingham and I’d like to leave on a high! Looking ahead to the end of the road season I’d like to perform well at the British Track championships.
Q How do you train in order to retain your extreme range of endurance and power?
EB: I alternate between track and road cycling. At different times of the year I prioritise either track or road, where both have different types of training. I have just finished my track season for this winter, so I train at the velodrome 3-4 times throughout the week, and then I try and get a long road ride in at the weekend.
AR: I have had a winter on the track, so I have been mainly training on the track with recovery rides out on the road. To get the endurance for what I will need this season on the road, I have had to get in the longer rides since completing the track season. In a way, I will treat these first few big races as training to improve my fitness as well as gaining experience and helping my road team in any way possible. A lot of the power I need I have gained from the track, so that will help a bit throughout the year.
CH: It's a combination of road and track training (with additional gym sessions) with specific sessions according to the race season (track or road). For example, during the winter season when we were preparing for World Cups on the track, a typical day may entail specific sessions looking at our starts (and the power and strength element achieved through repeated start efforts using bigger gears) with a road ride in the morning or afternoon too to maintain a good level of endurance.
Q Can you tell us about your diet on a regular training day? Do you conform to the high carb endurance approach or have you trialled higher protein or fat diets?
AR: I don’t really have a specific diet plan. I try and get a range of everything to cover what I need for when training a lot, and supplement my recovery with USN shakes and protein bars. I try to keep away from eating a lot of foods high in sugar and fats, like takeaways, but you have to treat yourself every once in a while!
I haven’t tried a high fat diet and I intake most of my protein in one meal a day. I have USN recovery shakes after every session or I mix it up with a USN Pure Protein bar - they are so nice!
AR: I have only just started to use energy drinks at races, like USN Epic Pro All-in-One - in the past I’ve stuck to squash! It’s definitely good in hard races to have USN Vooma Gels to hand as well; they give you a bit more energy when you really need it! A big factor for me is the taste of the products, if they give me energy and taste good, they’re perfect!
Q How has being a part of the Olympic Development Programme helped your performance?
EB: Massively! Going to things like Junior European Track Championships, which is tied in with the Under 23 Competition, is really good as you see how the older athletes prepare and perform. The first time I went to Junior Euros, Philip Hindes was there as an Under 23 and just over a year later he won Olympic gold in London! So it’s good to see how riders like that prepare for competition. It was a great opportunity to share experiences and learn from all the other riders and coaching team.
AR: I have learnt so much from going to different races abroad and have the opportunity to experience major events such as World and European Championships. The training camps on the programme are also good as they push your body, so you get a hard work out from them but you also familiarise yourself with the environment and the sort of lifestyle that you could have as a professional bike rider – including everything from how to ride your bike and read a race, to how to recover in preparation for the next event.