The newest recruit to Storey Racing is Lizzy Banks who joined the team for the London Nocturne and has been a superb addition to an already strong line up.
Lizzy got off to a flyer in the National Road Series when she sprinted to victory in round one at the Tour of the Wolds. Consistency in subsequent rounds led to her retaking the series leaders jersey at the Tour of the Reservoir, previously held by team mate Chanel Mason. As the series reaches its last two rounds we caught up with her to see how she felt about the season and her first UCI stage race experience.
Q: You’ll be riding the penultimate round of the National Road Series on your wedding anniversary, how much has your career progressed in that 12 months?
LB: Yes, there’s never a better way to celebrate than going to a bike race! A lot has changed in the last 12 months and I’ve achieved a lot of goals that I had set myself such as winning a National Series round and gaining experience racing at UCI level. However, goals are very often easier to set than they are to achieve and I couldn’t have imagined this time last year that I would now be leading the National Women’s Road Series. I had quite a turbulent season last year with some series crashes and injuries which meant I didn’t have the form or fitness to achieve the results I had aimed for. That really spurred me on over the winter and I had a really good few months of consistent and quality training. As it was only my second winter of training, my body had a long way to go in terms of conditioning and fitness and I think that that period was really the key to enabling me to step up in terms of performance and results this season.
Q: Thüringen was your first UCI stage race, how did you find it? Did you expect 3 top 15 finishes?
LB: Riding Thüringen Rundfahrt was a brilliant experience from start to finish but boy was it hard! Going in to the race I wanted to do well as part of a team performance but I really had no idea how I would fare personally amongst some of the world’s best riders. Having the experience of Barney and Sarah to guide the whole team through the week was absolutely invaluable and the team created a really supportive environment for the riders, ensuring that all our focus was on racing and recovery, whilst the staff worked tirelessly to prep our bikes, make up our bottles and give us daily massages. The racing itself was hard…. Very hard! The team started the week with a fantastic fourth place from EJay in the prologue which gave us all a huge boost from the beginning. The first road stage of the race was the queen stage and it was a huge learning experience. The peloton was faster, tighter and much more skilled that any I had ridden in before and suddenly getting to the front of the race became a huge challenge itself. About half way through the stage I found my feet, started believing in myself and worked my way towards the front as we got to the pointy end of the race. I was really quite surprised to make the front group after such a gruelling day of racing and as we headed towards the technical finish that was characteristic of this year’s tour, I just got my head down and drove as hard as I could for the line. I was pretty pleased with 12th place which also meant that the team took the best amateur jersey for the second day in a row. Backing up that result with two further 14th places was really great and it was pleasing to know that the first results wasn’t just a fluke! Huge credit must go to the rest of the team who worked so hard to look after me, bringing me bottles, moving me up the peloton and critically helping me back to the pack after two unfortunate mechanicals on separate days close to the finish. It’s amazing what you can do with determination and a strong team of riders and staff behind you!
Q: You are the newest recruit to Storey Racing and are also leading the National Series, have you enjoyed riding with a strong team around you and support staff behind you?
LB: Having such a strong team of staff and riders really has been a bit of a game changer. I was a little nervous about coming into a well established group but everyone has been so friendly and welcoming and I feel like I’ve been with the team for years! Having a positive environment in which to race (and recover!) really is critical to good performance. I’m a true believer that happy bike riders go faster and that certainly seems to be the case on this team with the team now having held the national series lead since the Essex Giro and with Ejay taking a fantastic win at Otley!
Q: The road season isn’t far from over what are your racing plans after the final National Series round?
LB: I plan to continue training hard through September and October in order to race the British hill climb season. I am planning to race this year’s National Hill Climb Championships and I hope to do well there. As well as that there are other big hill climbs that the team are planning to target, such as Monsal Hill Climb which is supported by our fantastic sponsor HMT Hospitals. Monsal is also local to me and a brilliant event to participate in and watch so I’m looking forward to that event in particular. I might even dabble on the track if I can find the time as the British University and College sports championship is in November and I bagged myself a bronze medal there in the IP last year in my first ever track race! It’s also quite nice to use the track as an opportunity to mix up the winter training and a bit of riding in the dry is always good for morale! After that I will have a short break whilst I prepare for university exams at the start of December before building back up for 2018.
Q: You’re at Uni studying medicine, how do you find the time to balance training with the demands of this chosen career path?
LB: I’m quite fortunate that I’ve recently had a bit of time out from medicine to complete a masters degree which has meant I’ve had a little more flexibility in training time. I’ll be back in placement in a couple of weeks though which will mean I have to be much stricter about how I use my time and use my commute as training by extending it on the way home and ensuring it is as structured as possible. I imagine I will have to make friends with the turbo too as as much I hate to admit it, it’s a great way to train when you’ve got limited time!