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Emma Jeffers interview: the rising star

Alexander Smith interviews the Tour Series phenomenon quickly earning herself a 'next big thing' tag

Emma Jeffers has burst onto the British domestic cycling scene this year. Two wins in the Sportsbreaks.com Tour Series this year – not to mention a string of other top results this season – have propelled the 17-year-old into the position of one of the brightest prospects in British road racing. 

To come second in my first round, I couldn’t believe it. It’s just got better from then!

Keen to find out more about this emerging rising star, The British Continental spoke to the Lancashire-based JRC-INTERFLON rider shortly after she secured her second win of the Series at her local round in Manchester about her career to date and what the future may hold. 

“I was about four when I started BMX, following in my brothers’ footsteps,” Jeffers says. 

She was a force on the BMX scene, racing both in Britain and across the world. In 2018, Jeffers took home two European Cup BMX rounds, as well as finishing second in both the age group National Championships and the World Championships.

2022 Sportsbreaks.com Tour Series – Round 7 Grand Final: Manchester – Women’s Race – Emma Jeffers is interviewed after her win. Photo: Will Palmer/SWpix.com

“I did that for a few years, and then about four years ago I followed my brother [Cameron Jeffers, of Ribble Weldtite] over to the road and started doing that and some track.”

Since transferring to the road and the track, Jeffers has continued to show her promise. She took part in her first international race on the road in 2019, racing the U17 Junior Tour of Assen.

Last season, her first as a junior, Jeffers joined the JRC-Interflon Race Team and took on a wealth of top-level racing, including racing all three rounds of the senior National Road Series, and more stage racing abroad. A highlight was finishing second in the junior national road championships behind Millie Couzens, who now rides for the Plantur-Pura UCI team. She bested riders including Flora Perkins and the phenomenal Zoe Bäckstedt that day, a striking early indication of her road racing potential.

She hit the ground running this season, taking second place in the National B Rayner Foundation Spring Race Series Round two at the start of March and then 5th in the first round of the Junior National Road Series in Hatherleigh.

A trip to Belgium followed at the end of March, for the Junior Gent-Wevelgem. Jeffers finished fourth there – the highest British finisher – displaying some fantastic early season form against a quality international field.

I heard literally a week and a half before the Tour Series started, it was a bit last minute!

Then came a last-minute call-up for the Tour Series as a guest for the Jadan -Vive le Velo team.

“I got the opportunity to ride for Jadan in the Tour Series,” Jeffers says. 

“I heard literally a week and a half before the Tour Series started, it was a bit last minute!” 

But, despite the lack of preparation, Jeffers never looked out of place racing against some of the biggest names in British cycling. So much so that she came across the line in second in her first round in Galashiels, behind CAMS-Basso’s Megan Barker.

2022 Sportsbreaks.com Tour Series Round 2 Galashiels, Scottish Borders – Women’s Race – Megan Barker wins from Emma Jeffers and Jo Tindley. Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Was her success anticipated?

“I didn’t expect it, coming into my first Tour Series race to just see how it would go. To come second in my first round, I couldn’t believe it. It’s just got better from then!” She says. 

A fourth-place finish in Sunderland came next, before she took her first win of the Series in Stranraer. Jeffers got herself into the final four-strong breakaway and came round Jo Tindley in the final sprint to take the win.  

It’s all about positioning, following the right wheels and being in the right place at the right time

The racing in the Tour Series is fast and tactical, and she has looked comfortable in what is a high-pressure, fast-moving peloton. 

The secret to Tour Series racing, Jeffers says, is “all about positioning, following the right wheels and being in the right place at the right time!”  

This she was able to put into practice in her final three rounds, in Clacton, Barking and Manchester. Fifth place came in the seaside town of Clacton, and then she was narrowly beaten by Ellen McDermott of Team Boompods in Barking, before returning to her local round on the Deansgate circuit in Manchester. 

A rapid race from the start, Jeffers was able to stay calm and in contention throughout. 

“It wasn’t too bad in the bunch; on the front it was quite hard and quite fast.” She says. 

“I tried to hang on, I knew it would be quite hard with my junior gears as it’s so fast. I managed to be in the right place at the right time!” 

Coming into the final lap, the choice of wheel is vital for your hopes in the sprint for the line. 

“I chose Sammie Stuart’s [wheel]. She went in the second to last corner, and I knew she would stay away until the finish, so I just had to hold her wheel and I managed to get around her.” 

That made it five top-five finishes at the Tour Series for Jeffers, having missed the opening round in Guisborough and the penultimate round in Barking. 

This is an even more impressive achievement when you consider that she is riding on restricted junior gears. This forces a higher cadence and can result in ‘spinning out’ in some of the fastest sections of the races. 

“I think from track, I can ride at a higher cadence,” she says. 

“But you are spinning out a lot more. You’ve got to use it to your advantage, so here [in Manchester] I would just move up on the slight uphills where gears don’t matter!”

I’ll just keep racing and see if I can make a career out of it

After her phenomenal success in this year’s Tour Series, what is up next for Jeffers?

“I’ve got Junior Nationals this weekend, and then I’ll just keep racing and see if I can make a career out of it!”

She is sure to be a much-in-demand rider, and she says that team discussions have already started ahead of next season.

“There have been a few teams we’ve started talking to so we’ll see how it goes by the end of the season!”

She will be one to watch at the Junior National Road Championships this weekend, and in all her racing to come. The future is bright for the rider from Lancashire. 

Featured photo: Will Palmer/SWpix.com. 2022 Sportsbreaks.com Tour Series Round 4 Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway – Women’s Race – Emma Jeffers of Jadan Vive Le Velo celebrating her first Tour Series victory