Ahead of the women’s CiCLE Classic this weekend- the first National A road race for 666 days – we are publishing two special episodes focusing on the race. In this first episode, we talk with the race’s reigning champion, Emily Nelson, who gives us an insight into what it takes to ride – and win – one of the UK’s most prestigious one-day women’s races.
It has been a dizzying few years or so for 24-year-old Emily.
One of the world’s top track riders, she hit the heights in 2018, becoming the world madison champion on the track, and adding a world championship silver medal in the team pursuit to her palmares too. With both events on the 2020 Tokyo track programme, her Olympic dreams were looking bright.
The following year she then won scratch gold at the European track championships, and silver in the elimination race at the same event. And she excelled on the road that year too, despite riding only a handful of road races. She won the East/West Midlands women’s road race championships, and finished 12th in the national road championships road race too.
But her most notable feats were her victories at the Women’s CiCLE Classic and the women’s Bourne CiCLE Classic. The former is one of the most prestigious women’s road races in the UK, famous for its off-road sectors and Belgian roadside atmosphere. The latter, meanwhile, holds notoriety not only because it was a cracking event but also because it was the last National A road race held in the UK. All that will change, however, this Sunday, when the Women’s CiCLE Classic returns.
Unfortunately, things have not been plain sailing for Emily in-between times. She was dropped from the Olympic squad towards the end of 2019. Determined to continue racing, however, she joined the Belgian Isorex-NoAqua squad the following season to pursue a road racing career instead. But almost before she had started, the pandemic hit, and racing was put on hold. And after some tricky deliberations, Emily decided to retire.
With the Women’s CiCLE Classic due to return, we were lucky enough to speak with the race’s reigning champion before a new one is anointed.
Emily speaks about what it was like to miss out on her Olympic dreams, why she decided to hang up her wheels, what it takes to win the CiCLE Classic, what she did with her giant pork pie, and her sister Josie’s great start to her road racing career in Belgium.
Show sponsored by Continental Tyres.
Featured photo: James York/SWpix.com. 2019 Women’s CiCLE Classic – Leicestershire, England – Emily Nelson, RST Cycle Division Racing Team, after winning the Women’s CiCLE Classic.