It’s not just the boys which the Rayner Fund supports, the young ladies get their opportunities. Here’s what 19 year-old Miss Henrietta Colborne from the north of England had to tell us:
The Rayner Fund, how long have you been supported and how important is it to you?
“I was supported by Dave Rayner in 2017 and it was key to being able to ride abroad for a Dutch team, Swabo Ladies.
“The fund provide a great support mechanism funding me living with a Dutch family.
“Joscelin Ryan (a board member of the Dave Rayner Fund) is a great support at races with a smile on her face wanting to know how it was going.”
Tell us about your time on the Ford-Ecoboost team in the UK in 2016.
“I was a last year Junior and on the British Cycling Junior National Team.
“Ford was one of the strongest UK teams at that time with ‘classy’ riders in who helped me develop in National races.
“Nicki Juniper helped me balance BC and team commitments; it was tough I had to supply my own bikes, fund travel etc. – very different to a boys team at the same level.”
How did you get the ride in the Netherlands last year with Swabo Ladies?
“Having raced in the same Peloton as Swabo Ladies in July at the BeNe Ladies Tour I approached about joining for 2017.
“I had realised that the UK women’s scene, although improving, was far behind the Continental one.
“I needed to experience UCI racing and this was a career move forward.
“You just do not get 200 riders heading down three metre wide pave at breakneck speeds in the UK.”
What was the experience like?
“Racecraft was the big learning curve, the UCI races are about looking for opportunities to make moves, racing against the world’s strongest female riders so I had to use my ‘gas’ wisely and be aggressive.
“I learned a lot by following and watching the pros; I still have more to learn but year one saw me podium on a number of occasions.
“Holland is a great place for cycling. There’s a really good cycling community, a lot of teams, the local bike shops gets involved, downside; could do with more hills!”
Where were you based and what was the routine?
“I was based in Breda (South Holland) which is a vibrant town.
“The team was one hour away based just outside Rotterdam. I took my car out (a very old Berlingo) which allowed me to vary my training.
“A typical week was two races one midweek one at the weekend. As the scene is so big I was able to train with many local riders.
“I would head towards Belgium occasionally for the hills and stay with a teammate.”
How does Dutch ladies’ cycling compare to the UK ladies’ scene?
“It’s aggressive, fast and windy.
“The races are generally longer with a higher class of riders compared to the UK, as you get riders from UCI and World Tour teams.
“The flat, exposed roads means being able to ‘ride the wind’ is essential.”
How were your results?
“I would say I am content with my first year as an Elite Woman, three podiums including a win in a kermis in Belgium.
“Several top 20 UCI finishes including dixth in a stage at the Tour of L’Ardeche.
“My season started off with classic, brutal races where anything can happen (and it did) and the racing can be defined by the weather.
“I then had several UCI races and National races which allowed the team to compete as a unit. As a team we were not strong enough in UCI races so I was solo; I soon learnt who my friends were. As it progressed into late July and August the post tour crits came.
“These were my ‘fun’ races but extremely fast. These races were great, ‘free’ races without any expectation, a chance to have fun and try new things.
“I then finished off my season at the Tour of L’Ardeche with five mountain days of over 100km each day – proper women’s racing.”
How did the Spanish ride come about?
“I contacted the DS about 2018 and things went from there! I went over to see them in the late season and things went well.”
The Netherlands to Spain, that’s a bit of a cultural leap surely?
“Yes, a very big one!
“Certainly the cultures are very different but the team is international and are all focused on the same goals so the dedication and commitment to training will be just as tough if not harder.”
Where will you be based and what’s the setup like?
“I will be living in Durango in the Basque region of Spain, staying in the team house. The roads are spectacular with their views. I am going to need to be able to climb hills!”
Have you met management or teammates yet?
“Yes we had a team weekend in November, doing team bonding activities.
“The staff and riders are devoted to cycling and to the team. We have a team week coming up for training so it will be good to learn off each other and get stuck into training together as a team.”
You’ve had some nice TT results in Herbiers and the Nations – is that an arena you’ve ever considered specializing in?
“Yes, but you cannot make a living from Time Trials!
“I started Time Trailing when I was 12 and quickly realised it was something I was good at.
“In 2016 I broke the Junior Women’s 10 Mile National Competition record by over 50 seconds. I also came 7th in the European Championships.
“Time Trailing is a passion of mine and very useful if you get yourself into a breakaway away in a road race or an attack.”
Have you ever considered trying to get selected for one of the British Cycling programmes?
“BC are based on the minority sport of Track Cycling, this is their funding stream, all else is secondary. I want to make a career out of cycling so I have chosen to ride the road.
“BC programs are excellent for track riders, the results show that.
“If the opportunity arises to ride for GB road of course I will, but the best chance for me to get the skills and craft I need is to race at UCI and World Tour level.”
What changes would you like the UCI to make to ladies’ cycling?
“Some more hilly ones!
“A lot of women’s racing ends in bunch sprints, there are a few races out there which are ‘hilly and hard’ e.g. Giro, Tour de Yorkshire. But I would like to see more!
“If the above happened just maybe the racing would be more interesting and therefore attract sponsors.
“The whole women’s scene is woefully underfunded – this is the first year I will not be riding my own road bike.”
What are your goals for 2018?
“I would love to get a top five in a UCI race, it’s a high ambition and would require a very good ride.
“I am looking forward to getting stuck into a different style of racing in the hills, being based in Spain.
“I also want to be an effective team mate on and off the bike, working as a team to achieve goals as we win bike races – I mean who doesn’t?”