Women’s cycling doesn’t get the attention it deserves, and Junior women’s cycling gets even less – but two names that will be familiar to anyone who occasionally takes a look at race results are Gaby Homer and Savannah Morgan of Team 22, the North-West based team that since inception has been a driving force in promoting and developing the sport for all categories and which in 2017 will focus on Juniors and Under-23.
Gaby is new to the team, having previously raced with Wolverhampton Wheelers, and joins fellow new recruits Georgia Ashworth, Lizzie Catlow, Ellie Park, April Tacey, Bryony Board, Sophie Enever and Lily Greenhalgh – NS has an interview with Lily on the way. Savannah has been onboard since late 2015 – the team’s full roster, and a few facts from directeur sportif and coach Colin Batchelor, can be found on our 2017 Teams and Transfers list.
When and how did you first get into cycling?
GH: I started cycling when I was eight years old, thinking it was Bike Proficiency!
SM: I started cycling at Litherland Circuit League doing weekly crits in 2012.
Which is your favourite cycling discipline, and what is it about it that appeals to you?
GH: My favourite discipline is track, closely followed by road – I love track because I enjoy the atmosphere and the competition is exciting!
SM: Road racing, because most courses are different and it’s always enjoyable when off the front! What I love most about it is the unpredictability, even though it can be frustrating; when it goes right, it’s the best part.
Which bit of your racing kit is most important to you?
GH: My bike and wheels!
SM: My baby oil for my legs to fulfil my tanning potential!
What do you love most about your team? What was it that made you think “that’s the squad for me”?
GH: I love being part of a group. I first saw Team 22 at the North-West Tour and I watched the riders working together and communicating together to take the win.
SM: I really enjoy the atmosphere at Team 22 – all the riders are committed and we always like to attack. It’s a North-West team so it was ideal as it’s local for me and I was really keen to be coached by Colin Batchelor! And the kit is pretty nice too!
What should the UCI and British Cycling be doing for women’s cycling?
GH: The UCI & British Cycling should give women the same support as men – often women’s racing is almost invisible. When races are combined at grassroots level females often don’t even get a mention.
SM: Women’s racing needs to be televised more and most races should have a prize for most aggressive rider to help make racing more exciting.
Tell us a little about your off-season training regime. Do you have a winter bike or do you stick with your usual trainer?
GH: I do as many indoor track sessions as I can and I increase the road miles in preparation for the new season. I have both a winter and a race bike.
SM: I use a heavy BMC winter bike and I typically do long hilly rides over the Trough of Bowland every weekend and lots of turbo throughout the week with a few derny sessions! I also enjoy doing a few S&C sessions a week.
What’s the best way to keep motivated through the winter?
GH: I try to keep motivated through the winter by looking at last year’s performance to try to improve for the new season ahead.
SM: I keep motivated throughout the winter by training hard so then I can eat lots of cake!
What were your highlights, favourite race and hardest race in 2016?
GH: My highlights last year were two seconds and a third at the Tour of Scotland. Four top five places in the National Road Series and two podiums at the Inter-Regional track events in the Eliminations and the Team Sprint.
SM: I really enjoyed the first ever junior girl women’s road race organised by Bourne wheelers which I attacked in and managed to get 4th. My hardest race was a local race at Bickerstaffe were I was in the breakaway and gained nearly 5 minutes on the bunch. Also I really enjoyed the experience representing the North-West in Norway at The Heroes of Tomorrow race.
What does the future hold for women’s cycling? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
GH: I think women’s cycling will become as big as men’s cycling. I’m optimistic that road will be as important as track and women will be as prominent as men.
SM: I think women’s cycling can grow massively; however, women riders need to put the effort in to make it grow, people need to attack and need to make the racing more exciting. Otherwise it’s never gonna get the publicity it deserves.
Describe your warm-up routine. Do you use rollers or a turbo? If you use music, what do you listen to?
GH: My usual warm-up is a BC warm-up, or longer the day before a hard race, on rollers. I always listen to music, always fast and up-to-date stuff.
SM: I always use rollers and typically listen to music, usually Eminem or some awful cringe-worthy music!
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?
GH: I think there are people who believe men’s cycling is more competitive probably because men get more coverage and the sport is probably more male dominated. In order to change opinions on women’s cycling, I would say give women more airtime and increase women’s advertising.
SM: All they would need to do is look at North-West Junior Girls Tour Stage 3/4, I don’t think there was a moment where someone wasn’t off the front. People just need to get out there and watch it, I’m pretty sure they will think differently after they have.
What are your main aims for the coming season?
GH: My aims next year are to settle into my new team and be a prominent member. I know it will be difficult with longer races but I aim to learn from experienced riders and hope to keep up with the peloton!
SM: To really get stuck into the Women’s National Series and gain more experience racing in Europe – and also to just have a really enjoyable year with the girls in the team.
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. Who’s it going to be?
GH: If I had to choose a riding partner, I would choose Peter Sagan.
SM: Nicole Cooke. I read her book and really respect her attitude towards cycling and think she was a remarkable rider.
Previous Ten Minute interviews on Neutral Service
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