Despite bad luck with injury and illness, the 2022 season has been one of growth Anna Shackley, the 21 year-old netting her best ever results. In her second year with SDWorx, arguably the best team in the women’s peloton, the Scottish rider is maturing into one of the strongest climbers, and her late season results reflect that development.
On Sunday she finished 10th on general classification at the first edition of the Tour de Romandie, her result born of a strong performance on the stage two mountain top finish at the Thyon 2000 ski resort.
There she was 10th after helping her team mate, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio to a stage victory which saw her take the overall in the race’s first edition.
“I was a little bit tired yesterday,” Shackley told CW, slightly underplaying her state of fatigue as she reached the team van in the Swiss rain. “It was good, definitely a new experience, I’ve never climbed so much in a race before. We did a 14km climb then a 17km climb and I’ve never raced that, and it’s very different from training to racing, but it was a good experience to do.”
Part of only a four woman SDWorx squad, on Sunday she was well enough recovered to escort Moolman-Pasio through the final stage and over the line to ensure her GC success.
From Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, Shackley began her cycling career with Glasgow riders when she was around six, eventually choosing cycling over ballet. After being picked up by Cycling Scotland she graduated to the GB programme, and when SDWorx manager Danny Stam spoke to her coach, Emma Trott, the connection was made and she turned professional in 2021.
Though she deservedly rode the Tokyo Olympics in support of Lizzie Deignan, last season she would often be seen sliding out of the back of groups relatively early in hilly races. In this year's late late season stage races she has been an obvious ever present in the leading group. And not only in Switzerland last weekend.
At September’s Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta she was 10th behind eventual race winner Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) on the race’s GC defining second stage. And while that was her best result to date, she eventually finished seventh overall.
But this year has not all gone to plan with crashes and even worse, COVID catching her immediately before what she hoped would be a first appearance at July’s Giro Donne.
“That was pretty gutting actually,” she told us before Sunday’s final stage at Romandie. “This year it was my main focus and I really wanted to do it and do well in it, then I got COVID literally the day before I was due to travel. But I suppose it’s just a learning experience, I came back and my Vuelta was my best race of the year. It shows maybe a having a break midseason isn’t the worst thing in the world.
“It's nice to be getting higher in the results, but obviously the main thing is the winning the race for the team, which is always nice. So my main priority is always Ash [Moolman-Pasio] but yeah, it's nice, a little confidence boost that you're not going so badly that I can see my results.
“I feel definitely tactically I’m better, I still need to learn a lot, but then I'm starting to become more sure of myself, which is nice. But yeah, no matter how many years you race you're always gonna learn something new.
“And talking in interviews isn’t so hard anymore!”
Though it might be obvious for one so young, Shackley has matured in every way since joining SDWorx, and with her increased ability should come increased opportunity, and hers may well be a name on all British cycling fan’s lips in seasons to come.
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