Multiple-time para-cycling world champion and Paralympic gold medalist Dame Sarah Storey has set her sights on securing a ride in the non-disabled time trial at the Glasgow World Championships in August 2023.
The most decorated British Paralympian of all time said she wanted to “challenge herself” by riding against the best non-disabled riders cycling’s pro ranks have to offer.
She said: “When I raced the National Championships in the summer I came eighth, less than a minute behind the winner. It was the closest I’d come on time since 2014. Although I was eighth and not third [as in 2014], there was people between us, there’s so many things I’ve not been able to do because of the pandemic being a domestic based rider that I feel I could change and step-up with.
“There’s still gaps in what I'm able to do for logistical reasons. I thought to myself I've gained this really great form, there was a delayed [Paralympic] games that led into a short cycle to Paris and home World Championships, why not challenge myself?”
Storey added that goals needed to give her “butterflies” and they only really did that if they were tough but achievable.
The 44-year-old added that she has tried to gain selection for non-disabled Worlds races in the past but not been selected.
She said there were additional hurdles: “The kind of racing that gets you ready for time trials isn’t time trials themselves, it’s road racing and stage racing and I can really step-up in that area.”
The veteran, who has 17 Paralympic golds, pointed to her lead-in to the British National Championships that included only one road race as preparation, which she said wasn’t ideal.
“With a bit more preparation and a better build-up… if you fill those gaps what could happen? It’s a nice question.” she added.
Her next set of races are set to be the Para-cycling track World Championships in October.
Storey, who has raced both track and road her whole career but says the road time trial is her favourite event, added that the progress and growth of women’s cycling had made it harder for her to get the entries to top flight races she used to get.
“Success is about looking at finding other ways to keep challenging,” she said. “The fact that the World Championships next year is the first time where para-cycling is alongside [other categories], which is something I've also campaigned for, is really exciting. So how do I add to that?”
Much of her time in 2022 has revolved around her work with the Skoda DSI Racing Academy, which supports aspiring riders. Asked about its successes this year she said: “Morgan Newberry, gained selection for the Para Cycling Road World Championships. She finished top 10 in both races, and this was a brilliant result for her. She’s since gone on to win the National Time Trial Champs for the C5 category and is going from strength to strength.”
Storey said that she didn’t need to gain huge amounts of physical fitness, around 10 watts, and that combined with better pacing strategy, such as the ability to tolerate more repeated hard efforts, would be crucial to her success.
The Mancunian said that she has yet to discuss her plans with British Cycling - she has yet to plan a calendar that would lead to the championships as the race calendar for 2023 is not fully confirmed - but she hopes to do so in the coming months.
As Storey does not ride as many UCI races as her WorldTour compatriots do she will not necessarily be in position to help qualify a place in the Worlds. “There's quite a lot that is out of my control,” she said.
Dame Sarah Storey is the Principal of the ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy that was set up to support aspiring female cyclists and address the gender imbalance in cycling.
For more information visit www.skoda.co.uk/discover/cycling-academy
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