Women's cycling scholar, Stefan Wyman (Horizon Fitness - Prendas Ciclismo DS), has popped back in to his favourite cafe to share his review of the 2011 season over a cappuccino. Due to its educational theme, Dr Gavia has kindly offered to buy everyone a coffee with the aid of a student loan. Questions will be taken after class, so please raise your hands before asking your question. Any trouble makers will be put into the corner of the room and made to drink a decaf soy latte.
I always look back at my time at school and think I’d love to be back there now; no stress and from what I remember the lessons weren’t even that hard. Sitting down now on a training camp, the only conclusion I can draw on 2011 is that it’s been like being back at school, and I tell you what, it’s a lot tougher than I remembered. So let the lessons begin.
It’s the first year for a long time that a team I have led have had a significant UK based program. With the introduction of 4 rounds of the tour series for women, there was a real focus on doing well in these televised events. They were a real chance to put the team in front of the TV camera’s, provide VIP opportunities for sponsors and for the riders to lock horns every few days with the other leading UK based riders. It’s good fun, high stress and we won. I really hope these races will evolve over the coming season(s) and the UK scene is going to develop into something spectacular for all aspiring riders.
As ever with group of ambitious riders there is the need to travel far and wide to get the necessary stage races, training camps and development opportunities. We’ve been in 9 countries as a team for training and racing this year, racking up some 35,000km on the road for those events. The sad thing is that you never really get to see the wonderful places that you stay, but whenever the opportunity presents itself it’s important to do what you can. The season started with a wonderful training camp in Rimini, Italy. The riding was spectacular, and it was a perfect way to start the year. Road Trips aren’t always quite like the movies, but they can be fun. One that really stands out was the Sparkassen Giro. In 8 years of doing this job, I have never had a race where the team worked that well. It really was a dream and if we can reach anything like those levels in the coming years, we are going to be awesome.
Hannah Rich & Helen Wyman at Sparkassen Giro (courtesy of Bart Hazen)
History is about what already happened, and in that you study legends. Hanka Kupfernagel is a true legend of the sport that is still working just as hard to put her stamp on the sport. Hanka wrote a bit of history for us as team, by providing us with our first Professional win. It was in Poland, as part of the Krasna Lipa stage race. Hanka powered to victory in the time trial and it was a very proud moment for everyone connected with the team. To have some young riders with us for that moment was particularly special and hopefully it has helped inspire them to reach new heights. Hanka rocks, but so does our team, so I guess it was a match made in heaven.
Never does a season pass without the need for mathematical thinking. From juggling budgets, logistical planning and timings to calculating the point systems in race events. In the Johnson Health Tech GP series this year, it came down to the wire in the sprint competition, sadly we missed out. But the series was a success and something that women’s cycling and its community should be proud of and get behind in future years if we are lucky enough that it will continue. Women’s racing on the TV is something that rarely happened a few years ago, and this is a major advance and something we feel has huge potential to open doors for the sport. I know the riders who came close will be back stronger, fitter and faster next year. Sometimes it’s not only success that inspires you to move forward.
With a recent report showing that investment in women’s sport runs as low as 0.5% of that that goes into all sport, running a women’s specific team takes some doing. It’s not all doom and gloom though and the sport is running very well and in the UK we have a stream of world class riders coming through the system who are destined for great things. But creative thinking is a major part of what we do and it’s essential that we keep innovating to keep ahead of the game. It also takes a lot of really good people to be involved with what we do and for them to donate their ideas, time and expertise to keep the show on the road. Some truly excellent people, who know who they are, who have built up a lot of good Karma over the year. Thanks to each of you
It’s this subject that causes most pain to the staff on the team. Long car journey’s listening to other peoples (normally much younger than you) music choice isn’t something that I look forward to....ever. From hipperty-hop to Britney, we get it all. Some (if not most) isn’t actually music, it’s more like noise to be honest. We even get the dance moves to top things off. Helen even broke into a dance on the start line of a race, embracing Annie, at one event when a favourite song of the team came on over the speaker system. Perhaps next year we should introduce some music grounds rules......80’s rock all the way.
So I think that would be lessons over. It’s been a good year, lots learnt. Lots of tests passed, some failed, but you can always retake a test. One thing it has been is character building and it’s been an inspiration to me to see a group of young riders respond, evolve and progress as much as they have this year.
Here’s to 2012