Storey Racing has firmly established itself as a reliable and welcoming team where riders are able to work on developing on to the UCI level and most of the membership join the team from a local club in order to make that next step in their development. Since the start of the pandemic, when club rides were suspended and seeking local support to start cycling was less of an option due to the rules around group gatherings, we have seen a number of new riders find cycling but via a different route. Some new riders started cycling because facilities they’d used for other sports had been closed during lockdown and across the whole population we saw the numbers of people cycling increased significantly when vehicle levels dropped.
It’s been an exciting time, and as an established team, it raised the question of whether we could expand our membership roster to contribute our support to a rider from a different sport who hadn’t taken up cycling with the support of a local club, but thanks to their own tenacity were almost ready to be a fully-fledged member of a race team.
It’s no secret that the past two years have been hard for teams and race organisers supporting at the amateur level. Like many others, Storey Racing’s cash sponsorship was reduced by over 90% in March 2020 and it’s entirely down to our incredible equipment sponsors that we are still a functioning team and able to expand our team roster. With our target of 12 riders now being a viable possibility again, we decided the final space should be taken by a rider with national level experience in another sport, who took up cycling in lockdown but hasn’t had the opportunity to create links with a local club due to restrictions.
Following a number of different applications there was one stand out candidate who fitted all of our criteria perfectly, so we are delighted to welcome Olivia French as the final rider to accept Storey Racing membership in 2022.
Olivia came to cycling from tennis and continues to excel on court alongside her new- found love of cycling. 2021 was Olivia’s first race season and despite only starting to race at the end of June she threw herself in to a variety of events to gain as much experience as possible.
Speaking of her route in to cycling, Olivia said, “2021 was a baptism of fire in many ways but I loved the challenge of trying out as many different events as I could and whilst some of the higher level races were quite daunting, I gained valuable experience of the level I want to race at and this has added to my motivation in training.”
Whilst all the riders in Storey Racing have slightly different types of membership, focusing on different areas of cycling, Olivia’s membership is a newly created opportunity to assist her in gaining a full team role in 2023. With her primary focus being local and regional events, time trials and establishing her training environment alongside her tennis, she will also have key times of the year when she is pushed to join the other senior riders at a National level race.
Sports Director Barney Storey explained further, “All of our seniors riders are already in a position to test the water at international level, so the idea behind this final place is that we have a rider working with us who is developing to be in that position herself within the next year or two. Olivia has already fast tracked her way to a 2nd category licence and is rapidly improving her race results at local and regional level. With more time to expand her race craft in these smaller races it won’t be long before she is able to hold her own in the national level events and from there take on a team role.
When I first saw Olivia race at a circuit event at Thruxton, I was very impressed by her willingness to get stuck in and try to be involved in the action at the front of the race. Once she’s gained in cycling fitness and efficiency, she’ll be able to take that determination to higher level races and do well. I’m also incredibly impressed by her organisational skills and the balancing act she plays whilst at University and playing tennis. I have worked with a number of riders who have dual sport credentials so I am well aware of the challenges.”
With her membership of the Storey Racing confirmed, Olivia was able to share her excitement saying, “12 months ago I was riding my bike as a way to stay fit for my tennis training during the lockdowns, but having successfully joined the SKODA DSI Cycling Academy, I realised how much I loved cycling and so I wanted to explore all the pathways that racing my bike could bring. When Storey Racing decided to expand their membership, it seemed like the perfect way for me to continue to develop my race craft, so I jumped at the chance to be their first dual sport athlete. Barney has an incredible history of supporting riders who have come from other sports, not least his own wife, so this is without doubt the best place for me to receive the advice and guidance I need to continue to maximise all of my opportunities.”