VeloVeritas first got to know Neah Evans (Storey Racing Team & Scotland) at the Berlin Six Day, a year or two ago, since then she’s built an impressive track palmarès with success at national, UCI and Commonwealth levels.
And now she’s added Britain’s toughest road event to her roll of honour; the CiCLE Classic at Melton Mowbray, also known as ‘The Rutland,’ Britain’s answer to the Tro Bro Léon, over rolling dirt tracks with the ever-present risk of a crash or puncture – we thought it best to ‘have a word’ with her.
Congratulations, Neah – had you ridden the CiCLE Classic before, did you know what to expect?
“Yes I have ridden it for the previous two years but both times I have had mechanicals and/or other issues and had to do a lot of chasing back.”
Remind our readers about the race route please.
“It’s tricky to describe, narrow rolling roads before the first ‘cart track’ section so there’s a lot of fighting to be at the front.
“It remains narrow for the first Queen of the Mountains then onto better roads for a loop with the second QOM then the proper off road sections start.
“There are two more little loops with short off road sections and then you repeat the long off road sector in reverse.
“Back on to fast rolling roads for the final QOM.
“The finish circuit also has one short off road sector in it just to keep you on your toes.
“Then a final fast section to finish on.
“It’s the most confusing race route I’ve ever encountered, it really has got a little of everything.”
Did you have any punctures?
“No I was very lucky and managed to avoid any.”
Tell us about your bike – any special preparation to it for the race – what about the tyres – tubular or clinchers?
“Barney Storey did the mechanics.
“It was set up the same as for Tour Series apart from different wheels with clinchers on.”
It’s a race where you have to be up front, isn’t it?
“Totally, I was chilling in the front third of the bunch for a while but wasn’t happy so decided that I would try and force a breakaway to enable me to ride the best line.
“The roads are so narrow and there’s loads of gravel and pot holes even on the ‘good’ sections.”
You were involved in a late crash.
“Ha! Technically I had two…
“The first one was silly; I came round a corner with gravel on and just pressed too hard coming out of it and lost the back wheel.
“No real damage other than pride.
“The other one was on the finishing circuit; we were due to turn left down an off road sector.
“The marshals didn’t try and turn us till we were level with the junction.
“I had been looking out for the turn but the marshals are normally so good, unfortunately I tried to turn left but the others slammed their brakes and went right, so I ended up on the tarmac.”
Tell us about how you won.
“We had been working fairly well as a group of three.
“We were getting a time check when Sophie Wright (Torelli-Brother) attacked, I paused for Nikki Juniper (NJC-Biemme) to go after her but she didn’t so I just went into TT mode and tried to pace Sophie back, I managed to time it perfectly and came past in the finishing straight.”
I notice you rode with no track mitts?
“Indeed, not a huge fan of mitts.”
Did you manage to hold on to your bidons – a lot of time they bounce out over surfaces like that?
“I did until I had my second crash, I guess I had good bottle cages – also, being able to pick my line made it a bit of a smoother ride in the off-road sectors.”
How did you feel the next day?
“Fairly sorry for myself, I was due to be training on the velodrome but had to miss that as I had a slight strain in one leg; it’s now fine.”
Tell us about Storey Racing – and how you came to be on board?
“I originally signed when it was Podium Ambition for the track season and have just never left.
“The Storeys understand that I am primarily a track rider and it’s my main priority.”
You’ve transitioned from track to road pretty seamlessly?
“It’s gone much better than I expected but I still feel I’m on the back foot somewhat (as my training has been more track orientated than road).
“Ideally I would have liked to be a little fitter and managed some more UCI races, but that’s life.”
Are you full time on the bike?
“Yes, I am very lucky in that respect.”
Do you have a coach and can you tell us about your training?
“I am part of the GB track program and get coaching through that.
“During the road season I have a little more free rein as it’s more about fitting training around racing.”
What’s next and what’s the next major goal?
“I am attempting the OvO Energy Women’s Tour.
“Previously my longest race was the Tour de Yorkshire which was two days racing and I was wiped out after that so I’m not sure how I will manage with five days racing.
“More long-term is European track Champions in Glasgow (at the beginning of August).
“The standard in GB is so high that even getting selected will be an achievement.
“Currently it’s my main focus but a lot can happen between now and then.”
VeloVeritas looks forward to seeing Neah on those Glasgow boards come August.