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AVIVA Women’s Tour Stage 1

2015 Women's Tour - winners' celebrations

The AVIVA Women’s Tour was clearly the highlight for the 2015 season, especially for a British team like Matrix Pro Fitness. The mix of pride and excitement the team felt the year before and this year is no different. Starting at last years finish town, the team couldn’t wait to get started with a clear goal to be a part of the day’s key action.

Elinor Barker jumped into the feature break of the day, and it quickly grew from 4 to 6 riders. With a little help from a friendly level crossing the break grew to nearly 3 minutes and at one point it looked like it might survive to the finish. Sadly for the team it wasn’t meant to be and they were caught with 400 metres to go.

Elinor finished 31st, behind stage winner Lizzie Armitstead. The leading team rider in the finish was Laura Trott who took 18th place. All other riders finished safely having done their job for the day and will look to other stages for the opportunity to shine.

“It was a great team effort today, and everyone should be very proud of themselves. It’s amazing to think of the progress the team has made in the last 12 months, and we’re all exciting at the coming stages.”

“Elinor rode a very strong race, but it’s hard to really celebrate a big ride after the crash at the finish. Everyone is a very relieved to hear the news that Lizzie is ok after her crash and we’re really keep to try to build of the start we’ve made today.”

“Tomorrow is a long day, so is Friday. We’ll take things day by day and we’ll try to remain one of the animators of this race.”

RESULT

1 – Elizabeth Armistead

2 – Lisa Brennauer

3 – Emma Johansson

4 – Simona Frapporti

5 – Jolien D’Hoore

6 – Roxane Knetemann

7 – Pascale Jeuland

8 – Alexis Ryan

9 – Lotta Lepisto

10 – Aude Biannic

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Lucy Martin: The road far from Rio

Women’s cycling really is taking a big step forward in its transition to becoming a more professional and respected sport. It’s about to be restructured with teams able to gain World Tour status just like they have in men’s cycling. Many other strategies have been put in place to gain more public exposure and increase media interest with major stand alone events like the ‘Aviva Women’s Tour’ bringing huge crowds, and not just from men’s spectators watching whilst they wait. On the surface it all appears to be moving in the right direction, but other aspects of women’s cycling seem to be going unnoticed, simply shoved under the carpet. That’s what brings me to this, speaking out about my pathway as a female professional cyclist over the last couple of years since the London 2012 Olympics and into the next Olympic cycle.

Lucy Martin on Box Hill - geograph.org.uk - 3059335

In 2014 I signed a UCI contract for a Mexican registered team run essentially by Italians. I didn’t know much about the management when I signed, yet I felt safe and assured as it was granted UCI status being registered as a UCI team and that it would therefore have to live up to UCI rules, regulations and standards; sadly this did not happen. I began to race with the team at the end of February and other than a few minor things it was going as expected with a pro team; I was racing regularly and had the proper equipment. It came to June 15th and following that days race in Switzerland I was dropped off at the airport by my Italian team director, an older guy who smokes 30 a day, who told me as I got out of the car that I should not even be a cyclist. He went on to tell me he doesn’t know why I even bother and that if I wanted to get any salary I would have to move to a team house in Bergamo and live and train alone everyday. I was told I wouldn’t be racing again that season and only after I did all of this I might receive my salary. I entered the airport with only my bike frame as I was not allowed to take any wheels after being repeatedly told and that I would not be coming to a race again with the team.

What had just happened? What was this, blackmail? This is my job, my career, my life. I want to race, that’s what I signed a UCI contract to do; it’s what my life is all about. I have just been told from my employer straight to my face that I am not allowed to race again, with no warning, no reasoning. There wasn’t room for discussion and I was in shock. That shock was compounded by the fact that I had been lucky enough to come through the British Cycling system, which is professional in every way, and I was simply shocked that this opposite level of professionalism even existed.

Once I arrived home numerous emails went back and forth between me and the team (I was asked to speak on the phone but I didn’t need to listen to this, I wanted written conversations). To let you in on the kind of correspondence I received, here is one example:

“I think You don’t understaading You receive the money when You come in the house of the team!!

Only your problem is take the money and no the work!!

Is no possible take the money without work!!

Your problem is the race? But this year you start in 10 races and You have 12 crash!!

I talk a lot of Time (and send email) with You for serch the resolution of the problem but You don’t serch this You serch only the money!”

25/7/14 at 17:00

By this point I really was in shock about what was happening but more importantly in fear for how was I suppose to race; I wanted to race, money was a secondary issue. According to the UCI rules and my contract that I was under with team Estado de Mexico until December 31 2014, I couldn’t race with another team or even with the federation without permission, yet they are telling me I cannot race again and it’s only June. I had my whole season left.

I went on to seek advice and I sent my first email to the UCI on 24th of June. I was advised to speak to various people, including legal experts. I continued to do so week after week, email after email and as the months went by I was beginning to loose hope as nothing was being done, nothing was progressing and I was no closer to being allowed to race again. Would this be the end of my career all because of one man? No! I continued to train and keep fit and was lucky enough to have a huge support network around me helping me stay motivated and on the bike. The hardest part was trying to live, after only receiving salary payments for the three months March, April, May I was having to dig into my saving which luckily enough I had but certainly wasn’t ideal. It’s not like you can just cancel all of your bills, rent payments etc I had commitments and contracts, I don’t just live at home with my parents, yet this guy is was allowed to cut my salary, just like that.

After the year concluded nothing was achieved with this case. I hadn’t raced since June, how was I ever suppose to continue within the sport, no team would have seen me race so why would they sign me. I was certainly well off the road to Rio, having competed at London 2012 it was well into the next Olympic cycle and yet here I was. They say you get good thing when you need them most and I still can’t believe how timing worked out, as it just so happened that ‘Matrix Vulpine’ a British women’s team had decided to step up to UCI level for 2015 with new sponsors and a full race programme. I was thrown a lifeline and following discussions signed with Matrix Fitness. It was back to Britain, or at least Belgium where the team is based, and back to a respected secure environment that follows the rules and actually tries to develop and progress riders built on passion not just their sound business concept.

It’s been a slow and steady progression to get back into race shape after missing eight months of racing but with the support and backing from the team I was recently able to take 5th in a UCI race. Not a win, not a podium but back near the front of the race which was such a great feeling and one which at times last year I never thought could happen again.

I decided this was the best time to retell what happened after my latest phone conversion with the UCI, which has kind of concluded the case. I was advised that taking legal action against my former team would be costly and high risk and simply not worth doing seeing as I already have missed nine months salary. So that option has gone. As this has taken so long, my second option to pursue payment via the UCI Bank Guarantee put in place under the UCI rules was also not an option, as that has now expired. In any case, the UCI informed me it was likely the bank guarantee for the team was never in fact set up and even if it was, it is so difficult to communicate with the Mexican Federation and the fact that there be other creditors owed this money, that this isn’t really an option and that is impossible to receive.

So in a time the sport is moving forward a huge rate, we still have massive issue with the here and now to deal with. If it’s a rule that there is a guarantee, lets make sure it’s in place.

UCI rule Article 2.17.017 :

For each registration year, a UCI women’s or continental team or any team applying for this status must set up an unconditional bank guarantee (comprehensive guarantee) in favour of its national federation, using the model set out in article. 2.17.029.

I am forever grateful for my pathway into the sport through British Cycling and the professionalism of the federation and the opportunities I have been given. Likewise joining Matrix Fitness for this year and being supported and encourage to continue within the sport and given the most professional of environments. I cannot let experiences like mine and many others who have not shared them go unnoticed and forgotten about. This is elite women’s sport and it’s supposed to be the highest level of female cycling and yet this can happen and nobody has the power to help. It’s simply just how it is. That’s not good enough and in our transition into a World Tour environment, we need to make sure standards are raised, not only for the World Tour, but for what will become division two teams under the same current regulations that have failed me.

I think the sport itself deserves more if it is ever going to see real progress.

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Interview with Stef Wyman on UCI races and the women’s road calendar

Sarah Connolly – ‘There’s been a lot of talk this week about the various races that have gained UCI status at short notice, and with it the chance to win valuable UCI and Olympic qualification points.  Various “surprise” races have appeared on the UCI women’s calendar since the 2015 season has started, and while it’s a better problem to have than the days when races would vanish with only a few week’s notice, it still brings problems.  I was interested to know more about the impact this has on teams, so I asked Stefan Wyman, the manager of British-based UCI team Matrix Procycling about decisions he makes about races, how these surprise impacts affect that, and more”

Read the Interview Here

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Jessie Walker leaves team

It has been agreed that Jessie Walker will leave the team having agreed to mutually part ways. Everyone at the team wishes Jessie huge success for the rest of this season and future seasons.  She’s been a fantastic rider over the 4 seasons she represented Matrix Fitness and she rode for Great Britain in the 2012 World Junior Championships in her first season with the team.  Her final race was the Tour of Yorkshire.

In May 2015 Jesse Walker left the team. This was the statement put out at the time.

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Life in Limoux

The team took their riders to Limoux for periods of very structured training and team building. One of the components of running the most successful UK women’s team there has ever been. This was a write up at the time giving an insight into the great experience felt by everyone.

My coach is Chris Georgas and he’s one of the most positive, calm and happiest guys you’ll come across. He’s an ex pro (a fast one at that) born in Canada with an impressive list of achievements and qualifications along with being an economist, a DS of pro women’s team and the Canadian and American national coach.  Currently he lives his dream here in Limoux, as the owner of a stunning hotel and several gites based around cycling touring.  Limoux looks over the beautiful scenery and snow capped mountains of the Pyrenees.

He takes nothing for granted and gets a thrill from the breath taking scenery every time he rides.  You’ll never see Chris riding without a smile. He’s know for putting his ‘happy glasses on’ (orange lenses) that cost no more than £10, along with over shoes that have duct tape holding them together, his 10 year old limoux club kit (with pins to hold the leg warmers up) and an old school watch for riding time and heart rate (even though he lends numerous power taps out to his coached riders). He’s also known as the weather god studying the wind directions and figures out the best rides to stay in the sunshine, along with his knowledge and historic culture of the area resulting in quality cycle holidays. The fact we get to experience this for free on a daily basis is something I will be forever grateful of!
Off the bike Chris helps out as much as he can. Giving us the life’s lesson about how money can’t buy you happiness and it’s those closest to you who matter most. I really do admire his hard work constantly giving to those less fortunate. He runs a local club that i turn up to as the professional and encourage the kids. I end up riding before and doing hill reps with them, or the standard 15k TT then a steady ride back which always ends in hot choc! Chris’ famous recovery drink in the relaxing cafes of limoux, aka ‘his office’.

Along with Chris kindly volunteering to drive my french club team, Jessie and myself 7hrs across to chambery and 7hrs up to cholet this weekend he also took us a short 1hr drive to toulouse for the race which was definitely in my top 5 toughest races. Straight away off the start line we climbed a steep 4km climb, a bit of hesitance from when the neutralised car pulled off I kept in the middle at the front watching the flow of riders always moving in the peloton. The big attack soon happened, I followed and got my head down straight away giving everything to the top and didn’t look back. Once over this brutal climb we began the heavy rolling hills with added side wind, a small section of tail wind for what was the only breather of the race although you still had to get on top of a fairly big gear keeping the speed rolling, then turned a 90degree bend into horrifically strong cross winds where I really had to not only concentrate on pushing through my weakest section but staying up right!

I came past the next lap to find a few gutter victims being seen to as well. Next up to wear the legs down even more was a 90degree bend into the downhill section which could have been another section to take a breather, drink, eat, refuel. In fact it was headwind so you had to push on through down the decent and before you knew it taking the technical corners through the finish onto face the climb again and the lap board which read 10laps to go! My legs were beginning to tire as the race went on but all the ‘allez allez’ helped me keep a good rhythm up the climb. I focused on pedalling and moving forward as I became accustom to ‘feeling the burn’. Soon the laps went by and before I knew it I was coming Into the last lap and really used the momentum of confidence to drive me to the line and take my first 1st place of the season. Along with a nice bouquet of flowers to give to Chris’ wife, thanking her for supporting him as he supports women’s cycling, because as they say behind every great man stands a great woman.

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Gent Wevelgem Race Report

In March 2015 the women faced a tough early season test at the Gent Wevelgem race on a testing parcour. It didn’t go quite how they hoped but it was a great learning experience

It was a perfect classics day: Wind, Rain and very cold, as we stood there freezing at the start line just waiting to get out there.  It’s not until you get moving you can heat up a bit and on the down side, get properly muddy!  We had a plan as a team to show our colours at the front and animate the race at a specific point.  We’re a new team, and not the biggest out there, but there are times when we can see an opportunity to make the race rather than follow. Unfortunately with a very fast and nervous start, we weren’t really able to action our plan with many riders held behind sprints in the peloton very early.  After only 5km everything was splitting up in the crosswind and before we hit Ieper (start town) again after less than 20km the damage was down and the race was split up into pieces.

I looked around and it was only me and Molly who had made the split, which changed our plans. We now had to, obviously, stick to the front and watch out for the bigger teams.  We both got over Kemmelberg and Monteberg really well, both riding strongly in the top 20 and it wasn’t until we hit some really open pieces of the course with the worst crosswind that I began get tired. Like you saw in the mens race with Geraint Thomas being blown off the road, I thought that would happen to us aswell, it really was extreme conditions.

The race continues on with a loop back towards the Kemmel for the 2nd times, and without any real attack it suddenly just split and it didn’t regroup. Molly was in the front split and I stayed put in the 2nd group.  There isn’t much you can do then, just hope your team mate can stay in the group, and set yourself up the best you can to win the sprint in the group behind.

As the race went into the finish, it split in the front group again and Molly ended in what was left of the first group ending up in 15th. I didn’t really go for the bunch sprint, but it opened up, and I stayed in the front to avoid possible crashes, and I ended up crossing the line first which gave me 20th place.

Two top 20’s is pretty cool on a day where our plan didn’t work out at all – on what we wouldn’t call a perfect day.

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Sara Olsson and her day with Cyclefit

In December I went on a short trip to London to collect my new training bike (Trek Emonda) and for a bikefit with cyclefit. Christina and I came over from Scandinavia and Penny was kind enough to meet us and give us a tour of London and help us get to the shop where the bikefit was going as we’d have to take the underground for the first time! We stayed at this grand hotel next to Stansted airport and started the day with the most amazing breakfast early in the morning. We got on to the train and thanks to Pen we made it to cyclefit in the centre of London unscathed.
We started up at around 9:30am with a talk about all sorts of things from goals for next season to injuries we’ve had. Christina and I had a room each next to each other and Jimmy was the one mainly helping me (Here are the staff that helped us http://cyclefit.co.uk/cyclefit-staff) but all of them were around helping both of us throughout the day. So, I started off telling about problems I’ve had mostly with my right knee and how sensitive it is to any changes of position and so on. I’ve also had some back problems after a couple of hard crashes, I’ve been told my hip is not in a straight line and my right foot hasn’t liked me running this fall. That is pretty much all the problems I’ve had with my body from time to time in the past 7 years.

After talking for a bit it was time to look at my body. How everything is proportionated and so on. The first thing Jimmy noticed than was how my right foot isn’t as it should be. He measured in different ways to get a good look at what was happening in that area, he had a look at my leg length, my hips and everything else. He had a chat with physiotherapist, Morgan, and he confirmed what Jimmy found out. My right foot collapses when pressure is pushed on to it. The difference from when I sit down with my feet on the floor and when I stand up for example is way too big. And then imagine when I apply pressure to it on the bike. My foot collapsing is then of course the reason why my knee is so sensitive, my foot has been hurting while running and can actually have something to do with my back problems as well. My hips look uneven at first sight but are not, it all comes down to my feet. My feet have one whole shoe size difference when I stand up, all because of this.
So what is happening because of my collapsing foot when I sit on my bike? First of all, my foot is trying to compensate by pointing my toes down when I pedal. It also makes my toes point in towards the crank, which apparently is the opposite of what normally happens when someone has this problem. All of this also makes my legs use too many of the small muscles and mainly the front of my leg which is not what you want as a bike rider. The main muscle you want to use is your gluteus. When I got on the bikefit bike I could see on a screen exactly which muscles I was using in every pedal stroke. So, not only do I get a big power loss from my feet. I also lose power from using the wrong muscles too much. Jimmy even told me he can’t understand how I’ve been able to ride like this for this long and at this level.
The guys made me new soles, heated and fitted for my feet for my cycling shoes. We fitted the bike as good as it can without changing my cleats since it will be too much of a change with the soles and the new position on the bike, all at the same time. We’re going to keep working on my position and experiment with my feet a bit more to get the most out of my power. I can’t say enough how happy I am to have the privilege to work with these guys. So professional and helpful, Christina and I both felt very much taken care of and they really dug deep to make everything as good as possible for us. I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys soon and continue our work together. These guys are actually the same guys that help Cancellara and the whole Trek Factory racing team with their bike fitting and I would say that says quit a lot about their knowledge and professionalism.
Except from the bike fit we also had a nice lunch with Chris from Trek, a photo shoot for a magazine & also for the team and a small city sightseeing around center of London. We got some quick shopping at Oxford Street done and a cozy walk around a Christmas market and a few streets of London. It was really an intense but interesting and great day and I thank the team of cyclefit and Trek for an amazing job!
Now I’m getting used to the new position and it’s a big difference from before. Suddenly my feet feel comfy in my shoes and I didn’t even know they didn’t before. I already feel that I’m using some different muscles and am excited to see where this will lead. I’m hopefully going to come out much stronger from this in 2015! I might even ride cobbles well after this, not losing all my powers in the vibrations. Let’s hope so!

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2015 Team clothing by Milltag

Up until recently you could still buy the Matrix team kit. In 2015 this was how the team kit was available to the legions of fans.

Milltag are proud to offer the new 2015 Matrix Pro Cycling jersey in exactly the same specifications as the team will be riding in this season for pre-order (open until 25th January 2015 – delivery in March).

It’s completely redesigned and upgraded the technical features for the team’s first year as a Pro Level team, including:

Pro cut*
Milltag specific ‘Lightweight’ stretch fabric for front and back body panels and collar for increased aerodynamics
Milltag specific ‘Chrono’ fabric for side and sleeve panels for increased comfort and wicking properties
Milltag specific ‘Micro’ fabric under sleeve panels for maximum wicking and comfort
Milltag specific ”StretchFit’ fabric panel with ultra low profile silicone gripper gel strip at front hem for increased aerodynamic fit
Laser cut sleeve ends with ultra low profile silicone gripper gel strip for increased aerodynamic fit
Flat reverse pockets for a more streamlined reverse profile
Available in both women’s and men’s specific sizing.

*Note, pro cut is much tighter fitting than our standard jerseys – if you prefer a more relaxed fit then we’d advise moving up a size.

Purchase the jersey, bibs and gilet bundle and get a discount AND receive a free wet-bag with your name on. Purchase here.

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Matrix Fitness – Vulpine sign Laura Trott

In September 2014 the team secured a massive boost in the signing of Laura Trott. Boosted by Olympic success Laura was one of the strongest forces in women’s cycling and she had decided to join Matrix Pro Fitness. This really was a dream scenario for the team and all its members and fans.

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.”

2015 UEC Track Elite European Championships 357