I’ve recently retired from professional cycling after 14 years of dedicating my life to the sport. Part of the reason for that was because I felt like I had achieved everything I ever dreamt of when I first started my cycling journey at the age of 14. Last year I won a bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games which was the last major championships medal I hadn’t won. In addition to that, I had the best year on the road I’d ever had being part of Marianne Vos’ Dutch team- ‘Waowdeals ProCycling’. I focused on 3 major races last year, the first was the Commonwealth Games where I won a bronze, next was the Tour de Yorkshire where I was second and finally, my favourite race of them all - The OVO Energy Women’s Tour where I finished 3rd overall.
The OVO Energy Women’s Tour is arguably one of the biggest races on the calendar attracting the very best riders in the world and attracts 100s of thousands of spectators. The UK is leading the way in terms of equality for women’s racing at the moment with the prize money offered and more importantly the coverage on national TV. 2018 was my 5th year riding the race and year on year the race gets bigger and more attractive to the riders. Its always been one of the most professionally run races but with the increase in participation in cycling and investment from sponsors, I felt every year was more important. I went into the race as joint leader with Marianne Vos and our plan was for the team to help me in the intermediate sprints where I could pick up time bonuses. Then we would work for Vos in the finals without me losing time as she had more experience in a sprint final. It was amazing to have Vos helping me throughout the race, as the most successful bike rider of all time it was an honour. I was in the form of my life after dedicating everything to make sure I was in the best shape possible for the race. I felt amazing and the team helped me to always be in the best position at crucial times of the race.
It was all going amazingly until the finish of stage 4 where I crashed in the final and thought I had broken my knee cap. I was lying 3rd on GC at this stage so I was super determined to get through the last stage and finish what was one of the best performances in my career. Thankfully the crash was in the last 3km of the race which meant I didn’t lose any time. I didn’t break my knee cap but was still in a lot of pain for the last stage. The adrenaline and my amazing team got me through and crossing the line on the final day was one of the best and most emotional moments of my career.
It’s been amazing to see the growth in women's cycling throughout my cycling career and additionally the number of prestigious races held in the UK. This year is the debut for the Tour of Scotland which I’m really excited about & hope to be there commentating on the race. For now, I’m just taking every opportunity I can and I’m loving the variety of work I’m involved in. Additionally being able to ride my bike for the pure joy of it rather than having to hurt myself every day in training, is a wonderful feeling.