A day in the life
It may not have the glamour of the Tour de France, but Britain’s domestic race scene requires just as much grit and passion. spends the day with new women’s team Ford Ecoboost
grey day in Stevenage is not quite in the same league as the Grand Départ at Mont St Michel, but you’d never guess it by judging how Team Ford Ecoboost prepare themselves for round four of The Matrix Fitness GP.
Uniformly dressed in distinctive orange polo shirts, the riders are easy to pick out among the other teams at the race briefing. It projects a level of professionalism in contrast to the more laissez-faire dress code and behaviour of their rivals. After being embedded within the team for the day, Cyclist discovers this is about far more than just making a first impression.
‘Right from the start we wanted to stand out from our rivals,’ says Nikki Juniper, Ford Ecoboost’s team captain. ‘We never advertised this team – we hand-selected riders who we thought would be a good fit. It was important for us to nurture talent and prove to young girls that there are other pathways into professional cycling aside from getting into Great Britain squads, so we picked a diverse mix of riders with the strengths to complement each other.’
This selection policy appears to have paid off. ‘In the short time we’ve been together we have really gelled as a team,’ says Julie Erskine, one of the core members of the Ford Ecoboost squad. ‘It makes racing together so much easier as everyone is willing to work for each other. I’ve had mixed experiences on previous teams but I feel my performances are improving this season because I’ve been given the confidence to try things in races.’
All for one
That camaraderie on Team Ford Ecoboost is plain to see as the race preparation begins in earnest in Stevenage’s leisure centre car