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2019 Women's Tour Champion: Claire Steels
July 1st, 2019
ToS: Congratulations on an emphatic Tour win! You managed a clean sweep of stage victories on your way. How did you prepare yourself mentally and physically going into the races?
CS: Thank you! I have tried to replicate the structure of the weekend in my training, so doing a double day and then into a longer day the next day. As a team, we had a plan for the first stage, although we hadn’t decided on a rider to protect as such, but we knew how we wanted the stage to play out, so I just focused on that and doing my job. After winning the first stage that sort of dictated the plan for the remaining stages.
ToS: As the Tour is still fresh in your memory, what would you say were your Top 3 moments from your ToS weekend?
2. Celebrating with the team after the first stage, we had all done everything that we wanted and as a team had achieved our goal. It was great all being together at the end and happy for each other! Felt nice!
3. Winning the final stage, this weekend was my first road race win and stage win so it will always be special.
ToS: With the Men’s Tour just days away, do you have any tips for the returning Ladies Mile stage in Ashdown Forest?
CS: Ride the course and learn the finish, it is deceptive and the run into it is very fast before it drags up to the finish line. I think it’s easy to get the timing wrong and go too hard too soon!
CS: I started cycling because I wanted to do a duathlon. I come from a running background and wanted a new challenge and a duathlon seemed like a good idea. I did that for a couple of years and then started road racing last year. Im still pretty new to cycling so it’s all still fresh and exciting and there is so much more that I need to learn!
ToS: Do you have any words of encouragement, support or advice for people who are interested in or are currently taking their first steps in the sport?
CS: It Is definitely one of the best things I have ever done. I have developed so much physical and mental strength, have met some incredible people through cycling and it has provided so many opportunities. For example, I now live in Mallorca and organise and deliver fitness and cycling holidays and training retreats.
The cycling community is growing, especially for women, and there are so many supportive cycling groups out there! Get in touch with your local group or club and get out for some group rides! Ask lots of questions and develop your knowledge and confidence.
ToS: Finally, what’s next for you? Are you eyeing any upcoming races in the U.K.? Do you have an interest in racing overseas?
CS: Im looking forward to the 2 days of racing at the Tour of The Reservoir and also Ryedale in August. I might be tempted to do the Ras in Ireland in September, I crashed out of that last year and feel as though I have a bit of unfinished business. As I live in Mallorca I have raced a little bit over here, although the women’s racing scene is pretty small, I would like to go over to mainland Spain to do some races in the mountains!
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