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Hayley Simmonds – “I want to have a solid, injury-free season in 2019”

"Winning a medal at Commonwealths was a major goal for this season and I worked really hard over the winter to make sure I was in the best shape possible."

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When we interviewed the new CTT 30 mile record holder, Stuart Travis we were boasting that we’d now interviewed every British record holder from 10 miles to 12 hours.

We were quickly reminded that we’d only spoken to MALE record holders.

Point taken, so we spoke to 15 mile, 100 mile and 12 hour record holder, Alice Lethbridge.

And now to ‘complete the set’, here’s what 10 mile, 25 mile and 50 mile record holder, Hayley Simmonds (WNT-Rotor Pro Cycling) had to tell us.

Hayley Simmonds
Hayley Simmonds. Photo©Gary Main

We found you in Taiwan when we approached you for this interview, Hayley, what was on there?

“I was in Taiwan for the KOM Challenge (a mass start hill climb event, from 0 to 3275m elevation over 87km).

“I finished second in the event last year and really enjoyed it.

“Unfortunately my bad luck from 2018 continued and a local rider crashed into me very early on in the race.

“Although I only suffered minor road rash and some bruising, my rear mech. hanger was severely bent in the crash and my bike was rendered unrideable meaning I was unable to complete the event.

“Fortunately the trip was not a complete disaster, I was out there for 10 days and enjoyed some really good riding, as well as finishing second in the Yangmingshan Challenge (the warm-up race for the KOM), just being outsprinted on the line by the KOM winner Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott).”

You were a rower, why the change to cycling?

“I started rowing when I was at school (The King’s School, Worcester) and continued when I began studying at Cambridge.

“In the third year of my undergraduate degree I trialled for the University squad which involved 12 training sessions per week as well as catching a train to Ely at 05.55 am three mornings each week.

“Needless to say this affected my degree a little that year!

“The following year I decided to focus on my finals and didn’t do any sport.

“In 2011 I decided I needed to get fit again and my boyfriend (now husband) suggested I try cycling as he had been riding since his teens.

“It turned out I was quite good at it, he started coaching me and it all took off from there – he still coaches me now.”

Hayley Simmonds
Photo©Gary Main

2018 Commonwealth TT bronze – content with that?

“Yes, 100%.

“Winning a medal at Commonwealths was a major goal for this season and I worked really hard over the winter to make sure I was in the best shape possible.

“I had a really good race and everything just went right on the day.

“It’s a huge relief that I managed to achieve this goal, particularly given the bad luck I’ve suffered during the remainder of the season; I can still look back on 2018 and know that I won my first international medal.”

Your championship wins:

  • 2014: CTT 10 & 50 champ
  • 2015: CTT 10, 25 & 100 champ and BC TT
  • 2016: CTT 10, 25 & 100 champ and BC TT
  • 2017: CTT 10 & 25 champ, also circuit champ in 2017
  • 2018: CTT 25 champ

and your British records:

  • 10: 18:36
  • 25: 49:28
  • 50: 1:42:20

Have we missed anything?

“Nope!”

Those are mightily impressive times; what sort of training did you do to achieve them?

“I didn’t do any specific training to target setting the records.

“They were all set in 2016 and I broke my own 10 record three times during that summer – the first time I broke it I also broke the 25 and 50 record within an eight day period.

“I had won the British National TT in late June that year and had been hoping to make selection for the Rio Olympics which was in early August so I was in really good shape.

“I continued with the same training as normal, which is basically training as a professional road rider but with some TT work thrown in, I was just going really well at that time.”

Hayley Simmonds
Photo©Gary Main

Coming late to the sport there must have been a lot to take in with aero positions and bicycles – how was the learning curve?

“To be honest the major learning factor was related to bunch skills and road riding.

“As somebody with a science PhD I’ve always enjoyed the technical and ‘geeky’ side of cycling so learning about aerodynamics and bikes was something I found really interesting, just as I’ve enjoyed finding out more about physiology, nutrition, training etc.”

Tell us about UHC in 2016 – one of the premier women’s teams…

“To be honest I don’t really want to talk too much about it – that year I was focussing on making selection for Rio and I thought that winning the British National TT would be a major factor in helping me achieve that.

“To give myself the best chance possible I decided to part company with UHC.

“The split from the team was amicable and I still get on with the staff and riders, I just fundamentally disagreed with the way the team did certain things.”

Are you full time with Team WNT?

“Yes, I’ve been riding full time since finishing my PhD in 2016.”