Simon Wicks, Monday 23 July 2012
Born in Sutton and raised in Cheam, Joanna Rowsell is a leading light in British women’s cycling.
Though a very good road racer, she’s made her strongest impact in the velodrome as a member of the multiple world championship-winning British women’s pursuit team.
The team – more than likely including Joanna – is favourite for the gold medal in the London Olympics. They face a fierce contest with big rivals Australia, however.
Joanna (JR) kindly agreed to answer a few questions for the blog about pursuiting, cycling in Britain and her tips for the Olympic road races.
SW: How does it feel to be representing GB in the Olympics?
JR: It feels very exciting! It’ll be an amazing event so I’m very excited to be a part of that.
SW: What does this mean for cycling in Britain?
JR: I’m confident the cycling team as a whole will perform well and hopefully that will help inspire more people to get on their bikes. Since I’ve been a cyclist it’s been great to see a huge increase in cycling and interest in cycling in the UK.
SW: The British pursuit team is favourite for gold. But who are your major rivals?
JR: Our major rivals are Australia, New Zealand and Canada. America and Holland could also be very good. We know it will be a very close competition and we ‘ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us until August.
SW: What sort of preparation do you need to do to be ready for a pursuit? What's the key skill?
JR: We do plenty of technical work as a team to practice riding close to the wheel in front and practice the changes. We also do lots of standing starts. The main thing, though, is spending plenty of time riding together as a team doing drill after drill so it becomes second nature.
SW: How does it feel during the race itself? What’s going on with your body?
JR: It’s a very intense effort! The start is hard as we are riding a big gear so we have to get that going. That’s a big effort in itself and starts a build-up of lactic acid in your leg muscles.
Then we’re riding at a very fast pace, so pedalling very fast - but it’s still important to be in control as you’re only centimetres away from the wheel in front. As the race goes on you build up with more and more lactic acid and by the end my legs will be completely locking up and it’s a case of pushing as hard as possible on that last lap and then lunging for the line!
SW: Why should people take up cycling?
JR: It’s a great way to keep fit as well as a very environmentally friendly way of travelling. Even if you don’t have much time for exercise, you can easily get fitter by cycling to work or school a couple of times a week.
There are also plenty of different cycling disciplines for those who are interested in racing – ranging from BMX and mountain biking to road racing and track racing.
SW: How do you think the team will do in the road race?
JR: I hope both men’s and women’s teams do very well! We have a good chance of gold in both events but they will both be very hard as there is a lot of tough competition. I think they will both be great races to watch and I am looking forward to it.
SW: Who are the ones to watch in the women’s road race?
JR: The Italian and Dutch teams will be very strong with the current World Champion Georgia Bronzini and the ever strong Marianne Vos.
SW: And in the time trial?
JR: Hopefully Emma Pooley will do well! Another rider to watch may be Ellen van Dijk from Holland.
Joanna will compete in the women’s team pursuit at the Olympic velodrome on Friday and Saturday, 3rd and 4th August.
Surbiton-based writer and journalist Simon Wicks is a cycling fanatic and can’t wait for the Olympics to come our way. He’ll be writing a series of weekly blogs about cycling, the Olympics and anything else that crosses his mind as we build up to the big events at the end of July.