Roger Willey is the father of racing cycling Alex Willey, who rides for the team he created – Onit Cycles. He told us about why he wanted to set up a women’s team and how he sees the sport.
As a teenager reading magazines about the climbing exploits of the top Spaniards.
What’s your own cycling background?
Racing in road races and time trials as a teenager. No outstanding performances to brag about.
When and how did you first become interested in women’s cycling?
When my daughter Alex expressed an interest in cycling late 2013.
Why was it important to you to create a women’s team?
Cycling has increased its profile massively in the last ten years (Mr Brailsford take a bow) there are now many women interested in the sport who are too old to take part in the teenage orientated development programmes of British Cycling (BC). I decided, in conjunction with Team Principal, Stephane, to establish a team for women both from other sports and also keen cyclists who were too old to get support from within BC. Included within our team we now have former top triathlete, rower and swimmer.
Tell me about your plans for 2015?
Our initial target is to perform well within the Women’s Team Series, but if season develops to expectations we hope to be competing in the National Series and top media exposure crits later in the year.
What would you like the team to be doing in 2016?
Winning National Series races and developing pro standard riders.
Is your line-up finalised yet? Who are the riders?
Yes, our line-up is finalised.*
What does the future hold for women’s cycling? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
Optimistic, there is massive potential to expand the sport, but the teams need to be more attacking in their race strategies.
Some people think women’s cycling isn’t as competitive as men’s cycling, and must therefore be less interesting. What would you say to them?
Women’s racing is competitive. I watched both Men’s and Women’s races in the Commonwealth Games and enjoyed the women’s race more, but yes (as mentioned above) attacking riding must increase if public are to be won over.
Who are your sponsors, and which bikes will the team ride?
Our main sponsor is Onit Cycles of Porthcawl, they are one of the few bike shops in the UK who sponsor a mens and womens racing team. Other sponsors are Total Cycling Performance, who are providing us with invaluable training data, One Life, a specialist financial advisory service and TriTraingHarder a specialist Tri training business with camp in Portugal.
Onit have arranged for team to ride Focus team bikes during the 2015 racing season.
Most women’s teams actively try to help promote and develop the sport. Will you be doing that?
That is the medium term aim, but first we need to be successful which will increase credibility.
*Riders confirmed for Team Onit Cycles so far are: Fiona Hunter-Johnston, Holly James (Bristol RC), Charlie Jennings (Bynea CC), Helen Morris, Stephanie Post (Cardiff Ajax), Alex Willey (Cardiff JIF). You can follow the team here.