The Tour Series individual title, a first round victory and top 10 finishes in all eight races: 2017 was a breakthrough year for Rebecca Durrell.

Durrell, 29, was involved in the thick of the Tour Series action during the 2015 and 2016 series, but she overcame the best of British to add her name to a list of individual series winners that includes Helen Wyman and current Canyon SRAM rider Hannah Barnes.

Having left the Drops squad for the Storey Racing team in 2018, we caught up with Durrell as she prepares to begin her racing season.

Has winning the 2017 Tour Series sunk in yet?

“It feels like ages ago now. It was one of the big aims for season and just thinking back to this time in 2017, I didn’t know how the year would go. You hope the training you’re doing is going to pay off.

“In February I sat down with the team management and said that the Tour Series was my big goal. It’s big for all the British teams, of course. But to deliver consistent performances and have fun at the same was a massive achievement. It didn’t sink in at first – it took a while, that’s for sure. Success is addictive so despite being with a new team for 2018, it is a massive goal once again this year.”

Did you think you would finish in the top 10 at every round before the series start?

“It was always the aim to be up there in every round. The team planned for each race, working out different tactics for all of them based on the riders they were picking. It’s a good way of doing it – targeting and then achieving success in each round eventually leads to a fight to win the overall title.”

Were you nervous ahead of the final round in Stevenage?

“My main memory from that race is how rubbish I felt! I put quite a lot of pressure on myself that day because I wanted to win a round. It’s great being consistent throughout the series and knowing I had the title wrapped up was nice but I wanted to win a race.

“Finishing second, third and fourth are good but they don’t quite hit the spot in the same way that wins do. I knew Stevenage well from the previous year, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to challenge for the win.

“But I felt horrific – I remember thinking I’d do well just to cling on to the back of the front group. I knew I had to be careful with my efforts, especially when somebody like Katie Archibald put the hammer down. It’s hard to stay on her wheel.

“Somehow, on the last lap it all came together. We were confident that it would stay together and I had a good lead-out from my team-mate Lucy Shaw. It was such a good feeling – I had a few family and friends there. My form was good going into the race, we had a strong team. I just needed to use my head and be careful, which I was.”


Post-race interview: Rebecca Durrell and her then Drops team-mate Annasley Park following their one-two in Stevenage last year

What’s the key to winning a Tour Series round?

“It depends on what the circuit is like and what sort of rider you are. Bath in the wet last year was great for the cyclo-cross riders – you could see how well they were cornering and how comfortable they felt. Redditch and Stevenage are probably more about brute force and how much power you can put down. I’m lucky in that I’ve got a good sprint – I know that if I can save energy I can get through to the finish OK and then go from there.”

What’s your favourite Tour Series circuit?

“Bath is a good circuit, it had me on my toes the whole time!”

If you could ride any round of the Tour Series in 2018, what one would it be?

“It would be awesome to ride in Durham. It’s technical and it’s got a cobbled climb that reminds me a bit of Michaelgate at the Lincoln GP.

“It’s good for spectators too – we’re all guilty of it, but whenever I go and watch a race, I’ll stand where I know I’ll get to see the riders pushing themselves to the limit.

“There are a couple of good corners on the Durham circuit for that!”

How do you rate Storey Racing’s chances in 2018?

“I’m really excited to see how we get on this year. We’ve got such depth in the riders we have – some are good on the track, others are having a good cyclo-cross season, and a lot of those strength cross over to the Tour Series. We’ll have cards to use, different options to try. And of course we want to put on a show.”

How big would a return to the OVO Energy Women’s Tour in 2018 be for you?

“I’m hoping to get selected – we’d be delighted if the team gets an invite to ride. It’s a showcase event for women’s cycling. It sticks out on the calendar – I’ve raced in plenty of events abroad but the organisation is really amazing. It’s the whole package – when you see the number of spectators along the route and hear the noise from the school children we race past it gives you goosebumps. Seeing the affect you’re having on the people that you’re inspiring is what the race is about.”

What makes the race so hard?

“It’s a steep learning curve – the top 15 Women’s WorldTour teams were all there last year, and they’re racing to get results. It’s a serious, important event for them. The pace is higher, the efforts you have to make are harder. You’ve got to be on the top of your game, and constantly thinking, to get by. I’m learning every year I ride it.”

Is it a big step up from racing on the British domestic scene?

“There’s a big difference between the domestic races. The level of racing over here is good, and it’s been growing for years, but the Women’s WorldTour events have a different dynamic. They’re very tactical, people ride as teams and not independently like many women do in the UK events – although that makes for unpredictable racing in some ways.”