Matrix Fitness – Vulpine sign Laura Trott

Having recently announced intentions to register as a UCI professional team in 2015, Matrix Fitness – Vulpine announced today that World and Double Olympic cycling champion, Laura Trott OBE, will be joining the team in 2015. The current British road race champion will move to the team with effect from 1 January 2015, and will ride a program of key events that complement her track racing commitments and intended build up for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

 

“We’re very proud that Laura has chosen our team to further her cycling career. Her achievements in the sport are so huge they speak for themselves, but I’m personally really excited about the positive effect Laura will have on the development of our younger riders in the squad,” commented Team Manager, Stefan Wyman. “Whatever race Laura’s in, whether its track, road or criterium, she’s a major contender for a podium place. That’s exactly what we need and want on the team as we look to make our mark in professional racing in 2015. I know the impact a rider like Laura can have on the squad as a whole, and that will help us transition from domestic to international professional racing.”

 

Jon Johnston, Managing Director of Matrix Fitness, added “We are delighted to welcome Laura to the team and to be able to support her ambitions. We believe that Laura brings a new dimension to the team in her role as an ambassador for cycling and as a role model for young people. We have many shared values and objectives because the Matrix cycling team acts not just as a publicity vehicle for our brand but more importantly helps us fulfil our corporate social responsibilities, which also include increase awareness of the benefits of healthy physical activity, and to improve particpation levels in sport and fitness, particularly of young people. We also want to raise and address some of the key issues facing women in sport and try to tackle some of the inequalities. Laura is still only 22 years old but she has already achieved so much, I cannot think of a better person to inspire youngsters to get active.

 

In cycling, over the past five years we have worked really closely with our key partners, the ‘On The Drops’ cycling project managed by Stefan Wyman, and also SweetSpot Ltd – the organisers of the Women’s Tour and Tour of Britain. We are collectively supporting the development of women’s cycling, and I’m sure that Laura’s involvement with the team will drive this project even further and faster.”

 

The details of Laura’s racing program are yet to be decided, but it is certain to include a balance of professional and domestic races.  “There are so many standout events in the UK now that we want to ensure we still participate in. It’s also safe to say we will be looking to return to the Friends Life Women’s Tour, which was the race that encouraged us to push forward with professional registration”, continued Wyman. “It was an incredibly well-run event, and with other races around the world offering a similar return for sponsors, such as La Course by the Tour de France, we know the sport can start to move forward very quickly.”

 

“In the coming days we will announce further signings to the team, along with details of the initial team sponsors. We are committed to a largely British team, and hope that in the coming years we can help provide a stable road-focused structure for up-and-coming British riders. However, in 2015 we will certainly have a few overseas riders too, who will bring us experience and help us balance the team in terms of skills needed in the world’s biggest races. The team base will be in Belgium to provide an easy logistical base to European races, while keeping us only a short journey from the UK.”

Laura Trott signs for 2015
Laura Trott signs for 2015

Making the Split

What a crazy few months it has been for me. Non stop. At the start of the year I set out my goals. Each year I understand myself more and more as a rider and I know that I tend to be on form mid season rather than at the beginning. I like to use the races to bring out my form so the races in June-August suit me best. In this case one of my main aims of the year was to put in a good performance at the national road race championships. One reason for this is that all the top British pro riders come home from where ever they are in the world to compete for the stripes. This allows me to race against them and see how I compare. We are very lucky to have such talented riders come from the UK, with the likes of Lizzie Armitstead, Emma Pooley, Sarah Storey, Laura Trott, Dani King to just name a few, so I knew it was going to be a tough race. To top this off, humour had it that the course was brutal. I liked the sound of that!! 

The race split to pieces with Lizzie Armitstead setting the pace on the front up the second climb. I hung in, staring at the wheel in front, hoping for the top to appear. As soon as we reached the top, Lizzie pulled off and headed to the back to see who had made the split. I looked round and realised I was last rider with no one in sight. When Lizzie reached the back she glanced at me and smiled, as well as giving me a little encouragement; “Well done Jessie, good effort”. That gave me such a buzz. I made the break with all the hitters. Go me!!! 

Jessie Walker
Jessie Walker


The group of about 15 started working together, riding through and off to keep the pace high. I was so pleased to make the split with all the pros as it showed how much I have stepped up from last year. Just as we settled into a rhythm Lizzie attacked again. I had nothing left to react so couldn’t hold on to the increased pace. I drifted off the back with Nikki Juniper. We worked together and gradually caught single riders ahead. Hannah Barnes being the first one. By the time we got to the finishing circuits we had a group of 5 riders. 

My aim was to get on the U23 podium but I knew with such a classy field that would be a big ask. I realised that I was now going for 4th U23 in the group I was in and had to battle with Hannah Barnes and Anna Christian for that spot. From my experience with racing with the both of them I knew it was going to be really tough to beat Hannah going into a sprint so I decided I needed to go before. Having done many laps of the circuit I sussed out the finish. There was a little drag up about 500m to go so that was where I would go. I fully committed, I could see the finish line ahead and no one had passed me yet. Then just before the line Hannah came past followed by Nikki Juniper. I was really pleased with my performance, I gave it everything I had and I came away with a lot of positives.

 

This year has opened my eyes to another world of cycling. Racing with the best in the world is such an incredible feeling and is very addictive. Now the season is nearly over I can only hope that I get the opportunity to race at the top level even more next year.

A long week of racing

Exactly a week ago I had just got home and thrown myself at the sofa, exhausted after what felt like a very long week of bike racing. The ‘week’ started on Tuesday with my first big track race of the year- The National Points Race Championships. I’d felt the nerves quite bad coming up to the junior track nationals because a lot of my training for this year had been track based and this one week was my only big opportunity to let the training pay off and get some results on the track. So, Tuesday, it was probably one of the worst results I’ve had on the track. I wasn’t too disappointed though, I had put all my efforts into the race and it just hadn’t paid off for me today. I left the track reassuring myself I had two more days to show myself and get a result. Wednesday I didn’t race, just an easy spin on the road. It rained.

Then Thursday came round and it was the national scratch race championships, the very race I happened to win last year. I still had no luck. I attacked the race I believed in my fitness and form. I had raced in Brittany where one of the stages was around 130km long, this race was 10km, but I wasn’t given an inch and I didn’t leave myself anything for a sprint. At the end of this race I was disappointed. I only had one more day to get a result and racing against the newly crowned European Team Pursuit Champions in the pursuit I didn’t feel like it was going to be my race.

Mel Lowther

As a youth I rode a good pursuit, breaking the national U16 record, since then with injuries and illness impeding my progress I had never gotten within three seconds of my PB, it felt like I would never break it. Needless to say I didn’t really turn up to the track in high spirits. I knew I was in good form but mentally I also knew at every other attempt I’d been so far off my PB. I was still going to give it my best though, no point turning up for anything less. So in my heat I gave it everything, when I finished I looked up at the score board and I’d done it, new PB, I beat my two year old PB by just over a second, four seconds faster than I’d rode all year. It was the first time all week I’d finished a race with a smile on my face, it felt a relief, I was going in the right direction. I managed to get in the bronze ride off, against Abbie Dentus my ODP teammate. Abby had gone faster in qualifying by around half a second so it was set to be a close race. With around three laps to go we were drawing on time and the pressure was on, the next lap round and I was up and I was able to hang onto my slim advantage, finishing half a second quicker, and beating my PB by another second in the process.

Saturday came around soon enough and in the morning I headed down to Jessie’s to travel down to London with the Walkers. As last year The Prudential Ride London Grand Prix was a great experience, made all the better by the fact it was televised live and so my parents could watch me racing from home!! I also improved on my finishing position from last year, from 23rd to 13th which I was pleased about as the field had also improved from last year. Of course there is always a part of me who wishes I was in the top ten.

Sunday I was again with the Walkers, on the way to the Pontefract GP. Jessie and I managed to get away together after a few laps of the race, which was very rainy. We’d already spoken beforehand about how we would race if we got in a break together and decided if we had enough time on the rest of the field we wanted to race it out between us. So when I knew we had enough time I decided my plan was to wait for a sprint. Jessie, however had different plans and started attacking me with around five laps to go, she definitely didn’t make it easy for me. I managed to get on her, just, at each attack and coming into the last lap I was ahead, looking back all the time. It felt like we were racing a track sprint, in the end I just managed to get past Jessie before the line, it was so funny racing against each other for the first time since we became teammates nearly two years ago. I learnt that I’d rather have her as a teammate than an opponent! As we rode around another lap and up to the podium we saw Penny waiting to be presented for third so it was a Matrix Vulpine 1, 2, 3, and just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better the race was sponsored by Haribo and so we all got a pack of Haribos each!

Ducking and Diving in the European Peloton

I could quite easily sit here and write about Ride London GP, as well as all the great things about the race on Saturday evening but without the racing in Belgium and France that I have been doing for the past month, I’m not sure I would have been in any sort of position to be happy with my performance. And that is where it all starts..
Let’s go back to the end of May, straight out the back of the Friend’s Life Women’s Tour and into the Matrix Fitness GP series; Stef and I had a discussion about going to Belgium to do some races as I really wanted to try and step up my level of racing and to be able to compete with the top guns at the big road races next season. I absolutely love races with a massive bunch were I can duck and dive through the peloton and most especially hide when I need to, and theres nothing better than bike racing in Belgium for this. Don’t get me wrong, the first race I did there I thought ‘Oh dear, what have I got myself into!?’ whilst I was rubbing elbows with 80+ other riders all fighting for that top step on the podium. But there is something quite addictive about having that many riders racing round 20 laps of a kermesse, that makes you so determined to be able to learn the craft of european racing. Once I had a few races under my belt and a few battles to just hold a good position in the bunch, I was starting to learn how the european peloton works. In my opinion, you really can’t beat a 100km kermesse with over 80 riders all fighting for that one right hand turn off the start line, and that fight for the corner getting stronger and stronger as you get closer to the finish line. But I soon got to grips with being able to make my way through the middle of the peloton without doing the classic non-belgian thing, which would be fighting for your life on the outside of the bunch, being pushed and shoved around the gutter.
Harriet Owen
I think the hardest part for me, in all the racing I did there was getting to grips with how a bunch sprint works in Europe; I know you’re thinking, ‘Isn’t it the same in every country?’, well, it isn’t. In British racing, once you’re at the front and in the position you want to be, it is quite easy (people may disagree) to hold your position and only 60% of that front group really contests that final kick, as some people aren’t a sprinter or have different tactics, that’s bike racing. But in Belgium, it seems that everyone can sprint at a decent level, everyone is twice the size of me (I know it’s not hard), and you can be at the front and at the back within the space of 1km. After a few races of trial and error, pushing and shoving, ducking and diving, I managed to get myself into a good position at the front of the peloton with about 300m to go and was able to get a solid 5th place in the bunch sprint. I was really pleased with this result as with about 1.5km to go I was second row from the back, and I thought my race was all over but after my experience of racing over the past few weeks I battled through, knocked a few elbows, collided handle bars, brushed bodies, and a few slam on the brakes, I got the result I wanted.
Unfortunately, my european campaign came into a close a little earlier than I expected after getting ill for a few weeks, which meant I didn’t have the opportunity to build on my 5th place this year, but it has kept me hungry for results and certainly has made me want to fight for my place on the team next season. Even though I didn’t get that podium place I really wanted, it gives me something to work for next season, wherever I may be; but for now I am fully focussed on the last few races of the season and getting a solid base for next seasons racing, when I can really step it up a level. I learnt so much about the racing and about my strengths and weaknesses in that sort of environment which I can build on from here. But if someone asked me to go back racing there now, I’d be crossing the channel in a matter of minutes. For now though, I’m off on a training camp this week to get in some solid training and miles after a few weeks of being ill and of course, it’s a stepping stone for what the winter brings!

Another Giant Leap as Matrix Vulpine intend to go UCI Professional

“Five years of concerted efforts by On The Drops and our partners to develop women’s cycling, as well as vying for a place in the peloton has flown by. The UK has now got televised races, a UCI stage race in the form of the Women’s Tour of Britain, and a depth of competition never seen before.  We are, however, still lacking a domestic professional team for British road riders to aspire to.  In 2015 we hope to change this as we take the project forwards to become a full UCI pro team.

We have the necessary letters of intent from our major sponsors and are working hard to secure some additional superb elite riders that will be necessary to make this project a success. Our ambition is to create a team and structure, that can go to pro races to be in the cadre of potential winners or at least shine through our performances at the highest level”

It’s likely that Stefan Wyman will be stepping away from the director sportif role, and focusing on team management.  This will be the 6th year, and there will be a need to maintain a high level of focus on return on investment for our partners as well as sporting success. It’s this mentality that has enabled us to survive and thrive and continually improve for over 5 years that’s put us in this position. Imagine what’s going to be possible in our 10th year!

We now have the funding to commence the UCI professional registration process and we are committed to a largely British team.  We are also looking at the potential of an official feeder team in the UK from which stagiaire riders would be called.  We have already commenced the search for team accommodation in Belgium, likely Oudenaarde, and a service course facility.

Things are looking incredibly exciting for the team, but we want to ensure we have the best opportunity to sign great riders and we can hit the ground running. Planning winter training camps, bike fitting and dialing in other equipment needs to start as soon as possible.  We can’t wait until October, when we can finally reveal the extent of our project. Its a huge step forward, and now is the time!”

 

 

Please contact Stef Wyman on stefan@onthedrops.com for all rider, sponsor and press enquiries.

 

Matrix Pro Cycling