Ahead of the opening round of the Matrix Fitness Grand Prix Series in Redditch, we spoke to some of the team managers and representatives of the leading women’s teams, assessing their hopes and expectations for the Series.

With an expanded calendar of eight rounds and an increased field of thirteen teams, the Matrix Fitness GP Series goes from strength-to-strength as it enters its seventh full season of competition.

Read on to find out the opinions of some of the leading lights of the Matrix Fitness GP Series.

Barney Storey, Storey Racing
Hopes“For this year we just want to get in amongst the racing.  We’ve had a very successful period in the Matrix series being champions for the last three years.  We know that’s not going to last forever but the girls love the racing, race as a very tight unit and just want to put their all into it.

“There’s a huge amount of pressure on the UCI teams – Drops and Team WNT – to perform but we’re the sort of team that we’re not done until the racing is over so, yes, we just want to get in amongst the racing and see what we can do.”

Expectations “I think it’s more than realistic for us to get at least one jersey of some description and to get a top three finish in at least one round.  As I’ve said, the girls are fired up and ready but to be quite honest, before the first round any year I’d be thinking, hoping and saying pretty much the same thing.  I think even in today’s first round, with the big hill at Redditch, the field will split up quite quickly and that may even go as far as to set the hierarchy for the rest of the series”.

Tom Varney, Drops
“That’s simple, we just want to win the Series outright.  We pretty much lead the whole series last year until the last corner and we know it’ll be equally tough this year but it’s been one of our goals from the very start of the year, to win the series outright.  We’ve got a busy three weeks coming with the Matrix, the Lincoln, Tour of California, a stage race in Spain and two one-day races so it’ll be tricky but we aim to have a solid team for each round”.

Expectations“That’s as simple, we’ll be disappointed if we don’t win the team competition”.

Nick Yarworth, Team Ford EcoBoost
“We’ve pretty much got a new team on board this year.  Ultimately I want all the girls to ride and be safe, that’s always at the forefront of my mind.  For tonight’s race we’ve got a plan for our five riders but there’s a really strong field here at Redditch.  But that said I really do think we could be up there for the overall, perhaps be in with a chance for the Sprinters jersey.  But it’s the Matrix Series, there’s a lot of racing in a very short space of time so really, anything could happen as it has done in previous years.  And if we can come out of the whole series with a jersey, we’d be over the moon”.

Expectations“As you know we recently lost Nikki Juniper with an injury and we’re hoping she may be back for the last round or two and as a previous series champion she would have been our main fighting hope for the overall.  But we’re got two or three other girls who are coming through, going well and really looking forward to the next few weeks.  And that’s when surprises can happen”

Jessie Walker, Team WNT
“We have Katie Archibald on the team, Olympic Gold medallist from Rio, and although she can only do the first two rounds, we’re hoping for big things from her and she obviously has the experience from having won Matrix rounds before.  We also have Eileen Roe the current Crit champion who’s a previous series winner so we’re coming into tonight’s first race looking quite strong.  So with that strength, and we’ve other riders who can perform at this level, so we’re hoping to win the Team competition.  WNT are one of the Series sponsors so winning the Series is a big aim for the team”.

Expectations“I think what we can expect is that we will win the team series.  I feel the team is very dialled in to what we want and need to do.  We’ve a lot of very experience riders who’ve won races and the series before so why not start off in that way tonight?”

Simon Howes, Team OnForm
“We won only last weekend at the Bedford 3-Day so that’s really boosted the team.  I would have probably said three months ago, that to be in the top 10 teams would be what we were hoping to achieve but we’ve really had a very solid start to the season with results nearly every weekend so now I’d say our hope is to be in the top five teams overall.  And if we can do that I think we can also hope in at least one round to have a rider in the top three.  As a team we don’t set limits.  We’re setting ourselves goals and when we get those we’re moving on to the next one.”

Expectations “To me, with how we’ve been going I think our reality is to achieve that top five overall as a team at the end of the Matrix series.  There are two very strong and well-budgeted teams here, UCI teams with very successful riders.  It’ll be difficult to challenge them but that doesn’t mean we won’t be trying.”