Cycling Weekly will have a rider blogging from every round of this year’s Johnson Health Tech GP Series, offering insight, comment and humour from the fast-paced proceedings.
This week, 2012 Series champion Annie Simpson (Hope Factory Racing) talks us through some of the upsides and downsides of being part of a women’s team with a men’s squad running alongside it.
“Pretty much everything we have on the team is shared between the men’s and women’s squads, be it sets of wheels or rollers to warm up before the race. During the rest of the season we often don’t get a team car, for example during the women’s national series road races, but the support we get at the Grand Prix Series and Tour Series is the same.
“We [the women’s team] probably benefit more from the arrangement. It means we always have a mechanic at the races which is really important.
“The only downside is that with joint teams the manager usually misses out on the women’s race because the briefing for the men’s event is held at the same time. Our manager Lee couldn’t make it to the women’s race in time to see us race.
“It also means we don’t have a manager standing on the side of the road during the race. We have a mechanic, but it is good to have a manager figure standing there, psychologically as much as having instructions shouted at us.
“I know they [the organisation] try to make the two races separate events, but the women’s race does feel like the warm-up race to the Tour Series.
“I think it would help to have a bit more clarity in the women’s series. It’s clear with the men’s races that it is a team event but in the women’s series it can be hard to know which standings are important. Often the individual jersey wearers get the limelight but there is no mention of the team, even though they are just as important.
“Actually, I wouldn’t want a women’s race at all the rounds. A lot of the women have day jobs so I’m not sure you’d get full fields at every race, plus there is a lot more going on in the women’s calendar in between the Grand Prix rounds. Until you have full-time women riders then realistically you aren’t going to have enough support.
“I think that combined teams will help women’s racing and help bring the women’s scene along, especially if the women’s team isn’t just a tag along with the men’s squad because the team feel like they have to. Actually, MG-Maxifuel [the only other combined team-Ed.] are arguably outshining and outperforming the men’s squad!”