22 September 2019
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Sportsister’s Maria David meets Wiggle Honda Racing Team

March 4, 2015
Dani-King

Years ago I competed against a teenage Dani King in a cycle race on a blustery motor circuit near Southampton. Even back then she left the field standing! Dani has since moved on to bigger things – Olympic and World Track Team Pursuit champion, MBE…..I caught up with her and the Wiggle Honda team at their launch in Belgium.

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On our arrival in the sumptuous hotel in Ghent, we found the girls lined up along the decorated staircase in front of us. What a reception! In fact, the Wiggle Honda Cycling team were posing for their final publicity shots.

They were at the end of a week-long training camp ahead of the European road racing season.

So, who are Wiggle Honda? A British team of fifteen international elite cycle racers formed by former professional racer and Eurosport commentator, Rochelle Gilmore (below far right). Partly funded by The Bradley Wiggins Foundation, the team aims to “set the standard in women’s professional cycling and create a favourable environment for racing.”

Wiggle-Honda

After lunch the launch presentation took place in a monastery. Wiggle Honda were getting full reverential treatment! One by one, the girls rode up to the stage on their Colnago bikes and addressed the audience. Making such an entrance into this religious building must have been a first!

Official presentations out of the way, I chatted with team members and staff about the upcoming racing season.

“For me, since the accident it has been all about getting my strength back on the road, and also my confidence back on the bike,” explained Dani King, who suffered multiple injuries including a punctured lung following a crash last November. “I am still trying to get that back but I have had a lot of support from the team and I really appreciate it.”

Dani-King

It was good to see Dani up and about and see that she still had a strong appetite for competing, and hopes to make the Rio 2016 team pursuit squad.

I met Amy Roberts, who has also ridden in the successful pursuit team with Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell, and I chatted to team GB road racing hopeful, Anna Christian.

“I only finished school last May, so this is my first year in a pro team. It’s great to be a full time racer,” said the 19-year old Manxwoman and former British Junior Road Race Champion.

Looking at their slick Colnago V1-r bikes and stylish high end gear I could see clearly why the girls are looking forward to getting out and racing.

All good teams are underpinned by strong management and support staff, so I got a flavour of where they are coming from when I chatted to the highly ambitious Rochelle Gilmore. “We’ve got riders who can be dominant across all types of races, affirms the 2010 Commonwealth Road Race Champion. “We want to be the number one team at the end of the year.” (They are currently number three.) However, it will be a tall order to surpass Marianne Vos’s Rabo-Liv team, and Lizzie Armitstead and her Boels-Dolmans companions.

Maria-D-Georgia-B-wiggle

Gilmore has no illusions about the task in hand, and I was then introduced to their key player – Egon van Kessel. This forthright Dutchman who styles himself as the Louis van Gaal of cycling and has coached the top cycling teams in Holland, plus the great Marianne Vos, is Wiggle Honda’s sports director.

But it’s not all serious training rides. These girls also wanna have fun!

I was especially impressed to know that Dani King was a dab-hand at the Wiggle Honda kitbag challenge – one of a series of team bonding challenges the girls took on that week. It involved finding your kit from a random pile of cycling gear and putting it on while blindfolded.

Dinner-with-Wiggle-Honda

Rochelle Gilmore proudly boasted of stuffing the most marshmallows in her mouth, while their most decorated racer, 2-time World Champion Giorgia Bronzini is the team joker.

What was apparent was the friendly, supportive ambiance at the heart of the Wiggle Honda structure. The racers have a strong willingness to ride for each other and support each other on and off the bike.

With a busy racing schedule, including appearances at the Friend’s Life Women’s Tour, the Prudential Ride London GP, and the Tour de France/La Course criterium the Wiggle Honda girls have their work cut out for them – 2015 promises to be a big adventure ride!

Maria David, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

The Wiggle Honda 2015 launch was hosted by Wiggle, the UK’s number 1 online cycling and tri-sports retailer. For more information head to www.wiggle.co.uk

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