Norfolk-based track and road rider Sophie Holmes may only be 16, but having been racing since 2011 she has more experience than many older riders – and her career got off to a promising start when she won her first big race, the U12s at the Ixworth Crits back in 2011. The following year she won two more races and took four podium finishes, then in 2013 she won eight times, ten times in 2014, three in 2015 and four in 2016.
When and how did you first get into cycling? Do you remember your first bike?
Watching my dad race and then starting cyclocross at 6; also winning the U12’s in my first year even though I was last on my first race!
Which is your favourite cycling discipline, and what is it about it that appeals to you?
Track and road, I can’t choose between the two!
And what do you love most about the sport?
The thrill of finishing a race knowing I’ve done my best… but a place on the podium is even better.
Which bit of your racing kit is most important to you?
My Team Terminator kit – it’s a design that stands out in the crowd.
What should the UCI and British Cycling be doing for women’s cycling?
Equal prize money which will allow the top women riders to be even more professional and encourage race organisers to put on bigger events.
The biggest problem I have with my cycling is living in Norfolk – the nearest circuit and velodrome, indoor or outdoor, is over two hours’ drive away. Just to do a session at Lee Valley costs nearly £60 with entry and fuel, and any road circuit like Lee Valley, Hog Hill and the Cyclopark in Gravesend are again very expensive. Norfolk and Suffolk doesn’t seem to be on British Cycling’s agenda for funding; it always seem to be either the North of the country or Wales.
Tell us a little about your off-season training regime. Do you have a winter bike or do you stick with your usual trainer?
My off-season training consists of road, turbo and roller sessions. I try to get longer rides in at the weekends with turbo and roller sessions during the week if I’m not at a track event in the evening.
What’s the best way to keep motivated through the winter?
The best way I find is to look at the races coming up and visualise riding them in the sunshine.
What were your highlights, favourite race and hardest race in 2016?
GHS 10 mile Time Trial Champ for Eastern Region and top 10 nationally for U17’s. My favourite races were the Herne Hill Velodrome Women’s League.
What does the future hold for women’s cycling? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
I think women’s cycling is only going to get bigger as soon as we are allowed to ride further, have bigger events and more media coverage. This has already started with the likes of the Tour of Yorkshire, the Women’s Tour and the Women’s Tour Series. As soon as Le Tour realises that they need to put on a multi-day event again women’s cycling will be known by everyone.
Describe your warm-up routine. Music or no music, turbo or rollers?
My warm up is usually on the rollers – I tend to do the BC progressive warm up
There are still some people out there who think women’s racing isn’t as interesting or competitive as men’s racing. What would you say to convince them otherwise?
Easy, just come and watch an event and see how equally professional women’s racing is to men’s!
What are your main aims for the coming season?
I have entered lots of National events to see how I perform as a first year junior. Finishing with the main bunch would be a main indicator that I am going in the right direction and will give me plenty to build on.
Finally, here’s the keys for the Neutral Service time machine – you can use it to go for a ride with anyone in cycling history, past or present. Who’s it going to be?
It would definitely be Victoria Pendleton!
Previous Ten Minute interviews on Neutral Service
Emma Jane Hornsby – Nikki Juniper – Rebecca Johnson – Joanne Newstead – Connie Hayes – Alice and Tom Staniford – Catherine Coley – Sian Botteley – Maddie Gammons – Gemma Sargent – Gaby Homer and Savannah Morgan – Valentina Scandolara – Alicia Speake – Meredith Miller – Anneke Prins – Giorgia Bronzini – Marijn De Vries – Heather Bamforth – Georgina Pymer – Nicola Soden – Detta Guerrini – Isla Rush – Jen Edwards – Anika Todd – Alice Cobb – Deborah John – Tanya Griffiths – Laura Morgan – Rebecca Nixon – Suzanne Deveny – Karla Boddy – Sjekkie Vos