We caught up with recently crowned European Champion Joanna Rowsell this week to talk about The Women’s Tour and the upcoming UCI Track World Cup in Manchester.

Joanna was in London at a meeting about The Women’s Tour, so we took the chance to grab five-minutes with the Olympic and triple World Champion.

Coming just days after the Great Britain team pursuit squad had taken Gold and a new World Record in the European Championships in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands we asked how she was adapting to the new four rider format.

“It’s really exciting, getting back on the track with the girls and doing the 4k team pursuit, it’s a new challenge,” said Rowsell.

“It’s great having four riders as you have more recovery in the line, there’s more people and when you do a change there is a longer string, so that’s all really useful.

“The only issue is there are 16 laps on the board and not 12! Always during a team pursuit I try not to look at the lap board, but at some point I give in and have a look and hopefully it’s around three laps to go. In Holland I looked and it said seven and I was like ‘Oh, that’s a long way!’ Luckily we’d got over half way and were past the eight.

“The main issue is it’s just longer and it means we’ve got to train to get that little bit more endurance while maintaining the speed, but it’s an exciting challenge to have and I’m enjoying it.”

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Above – Joanna Rowsell on the Apeldoorn podium (Photo courtesy of PelotonPhotos.com)

The European Championships were just the start of a long track season that lasts through the Winter and into early 2014 with Rowsell admitting that it can be frustrating seeing some of her Wiggle Honda teammates end their road seasons to head off on holiday while she heads indoors to the velodrome.

However next weekend (Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd November) sees the Manchester open the 2013/14 Track World Cup season, which is a welcome boost.

“Manchester World Cup is always the best World Cup of the season, all the other nations think it is, we always have the biggest and best crowds. In fact they might actually not like it as they are always cheering for us and not them,” continues the 24-year-old.

“It’s nice to compete on your home track and not have those sort of nerves when you go to somewhere new and are trying out a new track, so it’s always nice to compete at home and those crowds make it very special.”

While Manchester and its velodrome may be very familiar to Rowsell, something that has been new to the Surrey rider is her first major campaign on the road in Europe, with the new-for-2013 Wiggle Honda team.

“It’s been really eye opening. There is a common misconception that because not a lot of women’s racing is on television it is perhaps at a low standard or there are not many women doing it. But it’s the opposite – 200 rider fields and really really competitive.

“My first race of the year was Het Nieuwsblad, it was -2°c and there were still 200 girls there on the start line. The racing is competitive and it was tough at the start of the season, I think it was a bit of a shock to the system, especially with the really harsh spring weather we had.”

Rowsell says she’s enjoyed riding on the road with Wiggle Honda and particularly the new challenges it has presented.

“It’s been good being in a team with Giorgia Bronzini because she’s the female equivalent of Cav [Mark Cavendish] – she’s the best bunch sprinter in the world. So when you’re told that you’ve got to do a job for her, you can’t question it, you’ve just got to get on and do it even if you think you can’t make it, you’ve got to get on and do your job for the team.

“This year was all about learning and just trying to race as much as possible. So I did flat events, I did hilly, I did cobbles, I didn’t quite do mountainous, but I did do Fleche Wallonne, which I really enjoyed, even though you wouldn’t think that would suit me. Actually I preferred the hillier races to the flat, cobbled races.”

Rowsell helped teammates Bronzini and Emily Collins to their victories in the Classica Citta di Padova and Omloop van het Hageland respectively before winning the British National Time Trial Championships in June.

Below – A quick snap of Joanna being interviewed for The Women's Tour we tweeted earlier this week

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2014 though will be more targeted for Rowsell, with more stage racing including SweetSpot’s new event, The Women’s Tour from 7th to 11th May.

“Absolutely super excited, there’s a real buzz amongst all pro women cyclists about it. Crowds are obviously fantastic for us to race in front of. Some of the women’s races I’ve done this year, like Fleche Wallonne, have had huge crowds, but some have had no one there at all and you think ‘Oh that was it’, and it’s a big international race but no one knew about it.

“I think if you publicise The Women’s Tour well then you’ll have big crowds at the finish, and also home crowds as well, my family can come and watch as well.”

Joanna is keen that The Women’s Tour allows her to turn the tables on brother Erick, a professional with Team NetApp Endura, after she supported him at this year’s Tour of Britain.

“My brother rode the men’s Tour this year and it was an exciting time for him, especially with a stage so close to home as well. It was something he was working towards all year, so it’d be nice on the road for me, as last year was all about trying out different races and see what happens, to have a target this year and look forward to doing that.

“My brother can watch me on television for a change, as I often watch him on TV over the year, but he can never watch me.”

Below – Erick Rowsell (second left) and his NetApp Endura teammates during The Tour of Britain

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Following The Women’s Tour in May attention will turn to Glasgow.

“The big target for next year will be the Commonwealth Games and I want to compete on the track and on the road there. The events I believe I can medal in are the time trial and the pursuits. So the pursuit on the track is first and the time trial about a week later.

“I prefer the track to be first in the competition, so I’m happier with the way it is, as I can prepare specifically for the pursuit and taper for that and hopefully have enough fitness from the summer road racing to see me through the time trial and road events.

“In terms of just training generally it’s great having a road season and then coming on the track as you always feel strong, the gears don’t feel too big and you’re ‘Yeah 100-inch gear that’s not too big’.”

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Above – A blast from the past, the 2011 Johnson Health Tech GP Series and Joanna (second right) is competing with her Horizon Fitness team. She'll be back on British roads again in 2014.

Despite still being on the road to recovery from a broken collarbone sustained in a crash in the Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix at the start of August, Rowsell is clearly still feeling strong. Having helped her GB team pursuit teammates to a world record during the early rounds in the European Championship she was then rotated out of the line-up for the final where the quartet again went quicker, but will be back in action next weekend in Manchester as the track season really ramps up.

You can find out the full team here or more about the UCI Track World Cup please click here.

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