Following the launch of the 2016 Team WNT elite women’s cycling team at Hope Technology’s factory back in February there has been little time for rest (OK there was some fun involved) with preparation for what will be a challenging season for the team. This year sees Team WNT venture into mainland Europe and take on some world UCI teams, as well as focusing on its UK target of winning the Tour Series and, its entry in the Tour de Yorkshire.
Before the hard work began the team spent time in the Austrian mountains learning how to cross country ski, which proved more of a challenge for some than others, but it allowed existing and new team members to build strong bonds and experience the WNT philosophy of combining hard work with enjoyment. From the snow it was then off to the ‘heat’ of Lanzarote and a ‘gruelling’ 10-day training camp that put all the riders that could attend through their paces. Missing from part of the camp was our very own Irish Road Race Champion Lydia Boylan, who was competing at the World Track Championships, and poor old Bex Rimmington who was taken ill and had to spend time in hospital!
Training camp statistics collated by the hard taskmaster (Directeur Sportif) Rick Lister, include a distance of 836 km ridden (7524 km combined) with each rider spending 33.20 hours (the .2 is important!) in the saddle. Apparently the team encountered a lot of wind while in Lanzarote, which Rick feels will be advantageous when Team WNT hits the roads of Holland and Belgium for its first visits to Europe racing. In between the wind, riding, sleeping and eating there was more time for team bonding and the spirit within the camp indicates that Team WNT will have a very positive attitude when the first races of the season commence.
Let the racing begin…
Returning from training camp it was straight in to racing for many of Team WNT’s riders with Keira, Hannah and Sam taking part in the Rainbow Classic. This unique indoor criterium race saw one rider escape from the bunch right from the start and dominating the race. However Team WNT didn’t give up the chase with Hannah and Keira putting in a big effort on the technical twisty circuit, lapping the rest of the field with the exception of the leader, to end up sprinting against each other to take 2nd and 3rd spot respectively on the podium. Following a crash and a resulting mechanical issue Sam had to retire from the race. Next up it was the turn of Corrine, who took on a 50 km road race the following day. With about 1 km to go she put in a big attack and gapped the peloton, but her gutsy performance wasn’t rewarded with a podium finish as the chasing pack closed her down, top 10 in her first race of the season was good return for her effort though, and bodes well for races to come.
The Easter weekend was busy for Team WNT riders with Corrine, Jo and Hannah all taking part in the Castle Combe Easter Classic, competing against 70 riders around the Wiltshire motor racing circuit. The race brought good success with Corrine taking the first prime of the event and, with the race coming to a close, Jo and Corrine then set Hannah up for the bunch sprint that saw her finish 4th overall. Meanwhile, over at the Olympic Velodrome at Lee Valley, London, Kiera was back in action at the Good Friday Track Meet where she won the elimination race and before taking 3rd place in the scratch and points races. Not a bad start to the season all round… so far. With the Easter weekend behind us focus turned to mainland Europe and Team WNT’s first entries into UCI events. This block of racing sees Sam Burman, Hannah Walker, Jo Tindley, Kiera McVitty, Corrine Clark and Becca Carter take on the Pajot Hills Classic, a new race to the UCI calendar, which will pit the Team WNT ladies against cycling superstars such as Marianne Vos. This will be followed by an entry in the GP De Dottignies, a UCI 1.2 classified round of the Lotto Cup series on the 4th April. Following these one-day races Team WNT will then move on to the four-day Energiewacht Tour in the Netherlands between the 6th and 10th April. The riders for both of these events will be Natalie Grinczer, Lydia Boylan, Corine Clark, Keira McVitty, Jo Tindley, and Hannah Walker. “These races will bring tough competition for our riders and the experiences they will encounter, against some of the biggest cycling teams in the world, will provide invaluable experience that will set standards for the remainder of the season,” Marcus Nainby. Team WNT, Manager.