Harriet Owen moving on after 4 years

I remember joining Matrix for the first time, it was 2013 and I was pretty excited to join a well known and professionally run domestic team.   With previous riders like Dani King and Jo Rowsell I knew I was going to be well looked after. It was somewhat of a transition for me as before this I’d been in the British Cycling system. I’d got a silver medal in the World Junior track championships, but wasn’t kept on the program, so I really wanted to try to find my feet with Matrix.

I guess for the team it was also a transitions, as they’d supported the Olympic riders up to the games, but they both left for another team, so the 2013 season was going to be a rebuilding process, I liked being a part of that. I had to change my focus fully road and life outside the BC system. It was hard at first but I quickly realised how stress-free racing was, being in such a well organised team, which is probably why I’ve ended up staying with the team for 4 years.

2013 was a good year, I won some smaller events, and had some very solid results in the bigger national criteriums, like 6th in the Ride London GP. The step up to UCI stage races was tough though, but the experience was great. 2014 was a great year for me. The experience from the previous year set me up for a solid Tour of Britain, which was pretty amazing. The first ever women’s event and we held our own.   I also rode the Tour of Brittany, an event I didn’t finish in my first season with the team, but again the experience from that stood me in good stead and I worked well for the team there.

Last year was a tough one though. I got ill, and it wasn’t a good time. The team had just stepped up to UCI level and I was excited to get stuck into the classics. The team had always supported and encouraged me to be focused on the classics, and to be ill when the chance came up was really hard. The illness lasted for 12 months really, and wiped out both me, and my season, but the team stuck by me and opened a new door for me this season.

With a little less structured training and base in the tank due to time off, they offered me the chance to race criteriums in the USA. I didn’t know this chance would come up, but when offered it, I jumped at it. I love crits, and love the atmosphere at these events, but it was a big difference! You can’t compare Europe to America. America has a better atmosphere, and the prize money is huge. Whereas Europe is more the local people watch the races as a social thing and drinking beer (mainly in Belgium). Both are just as competitive as each other though so it’s personal opinion on which is better.

I knew I had a good criterium season in me, they really are my kind of race. I’d of had to of added 3 months of base training during the season while racing to get back to proper road racing form and that just impossible. Not wanting to miss a chunk of season, this offer from the team was just what I needed. I had some good finishes in the UK in the Tour Series and Nocturne, but my experience with the VeloClassic Stans No Tubes team in the USA really made me think it could be a good pathway for me.

For the coming years I see my focus on crit weeks and one day crits as well as a good mix of road races when possible. I have unfinished business with the classics in Europe but I’d like to be able to tackle them again when I’m in a chance of contending with the big guns. So for next few seasons, I’ll be looking to race in the USA, I mean what’s not to love about £6000 primes.

Thanks to everyone at the team for their support over the past 4 years, especially Matrix Fitness for the continued support of women’s cycling in the UK. They’ve changed the game for women riders and deserve recognition.

 

Carl Zach Cycling Classic

It’s not often you do more than two crit days in a row so I knew the third day would be hard with my body trying to adjust to doing crits day on day.

Harriet Owen report from Race 3 in the USA:

It’s not often you do more than two crit days in a row so I knew the third day would be hard with my body trying to adjust to doing crits day on day. Today was HOT, 33-34 degrees and there’s only so much ice you can put down your jersey before you start your race. Our game plan today was for me to wait for the sprint and for Kristen, Cynthia & Jen to try and get in the moves after 30 minutes.

Unfortunately, a break went in the first 5 minutes of racing today and the bunch did not want to bring it back. We all tried to try and bridge the gap throughout the race but we couldn’t get away so we had to settled for the sprint for 9th place. I didn’t feel great today, I think the heat really got to me today but managed to get 13th with my slow motion sprint. We will all learn from our mistakes today and come back stronger in the next 7 days.


RESULT

1 – Christina Gokey-Smith
2 – Laura Van Gilder
3 – Irena Ossola
4 – Laura Jorgensen
5 – Jennifer Sharp
6 – Lucy Bechel
7 – Kendelle Hodges
8 – Madison Kelly
9 – Peta Mullens
10 – Jessica Munday
13 – Harriet Owen

 

5th Place -Giro d’ Grafton

Today was the second day of Tour of Americas Dairylands. We all went for an easy spin this morning to try and flush away yesterday’s race out of legs, I’m still trying to beat jet lag so this helps my body get going for the day. I’m also still trying to figure out how it’s best for me to race these American races.

Today’s course had flowing corners with a slight drag on the back straight and then a downhill corner into the finish, which always makes for an interesting finale. I felt good early on but maybe got a little excited, as our game plan was to wait for the finish and hope it stays together. Because the course was so wide I was able to drift back in the peloton and stay out of trouble without exerting more energy.

I managed to move to the front with 2 laps to go and had to fight to stay at the there and then got a good wheel going into that crazy downhill final corner coming out of it 4th/5th wheel. I hesitated too much in the finish and should’ve gone when I thought but it was almost like I was waiting for others to start their sprint. I started to tie up towards the end but I was also catching the riders in front of me.  I took the wrong line in the sprint and got boxed behind the riders going for the podium. I’m quite happy with the improvement on yesterday but still hungry for that podium spot. More to come!

GDG1GDG2

 

RESULT

1 – Tina Pic
2 – Jessica Mundy
3 – Kandelle Hodges
4 – Peta Mullens
5 – Harriet Owen
6 – Laura Van Gilder
7 – Kristy Glover
8 – Cynthia Frazier
9 – Irene Ossola
10 – Christine Thirnburg

8th place – East Troy Cycling Classic

Today was my first race in America and my first race of the Tour of America’s Dairylands. I had no idea what to expect from the racing or myself so the nerves were pretty high going into the race.

 

Report from Harriet following race one of her USA trip:

Today was my first race in America and my first race of the Tour of America’s Dairylands. I had no idea what to expect from the racing or myself so the nerves were pretty high going into the race. Not only were the nerves high but the heat was also high at a sweltering 30 degrees, that made the racing even tougher than it already was and the tar was melting on the roads which also meant the corners felt like you were sliding.

Race 1 1111
East Troy Cycling Classic Course

 

So, the race set off pretty fast and it was a battle to hold your position at the front of the race, I tried to stay in the top 15 for the whole race as any further back felt a lot harder on the legs. There were a few cash primes early on and then a with 5 laps to go there was a $2500 prime, this meant it was lined out and full gas up into this and then the pace didn’t ease until the finish.

My positioning into this prime with 5 laps to go wasn’t great so that made it really tough to move up to the finish and I was annoyed with myself that I didn’t give myself too much of a chance to get involved in the final sprint as the final corner was 150m to go, meaning I could only roll in 8th place. I’m hoping for better things tomorrow!

Race 1 Stage 1

Brief Result

1 – Tina Pic
2 – Christina Gokey-Smith
3 – Peta Mullens
4 – Jessica Mundy
5 – Kristy Glover
6 – Irena Ossola
7 – Laura Van Gilder
8 – Harriet Owen
9 – Laura Jorgensen
10 – Kendelle Hodges