With Dani King winning the World Championships in team pursuit and Sarah Storey defending both her Paracycling world titles on the road, the big guns of the team hit the season in fine form. But the Horizon Fitness team is far more than a results orientated squad.
"We're here to develop young talented riders and give them a stable opportunity to develop, and it seems to be going really well. We're racing on several fronts at the same time, with an ambitious program. But we have a good squad with talent from top to bottom.
"We expect riders like Dani to win, but the nature of her wins has changed this year. Young developing rider like Hannah Rich, Annie Simpson and Penny Rowson (All in their 2nd season with the team) have been able to make huge contributions to the performances of riders like Dani, significantly reducing the pressure on her," commented Stefan Wyman, Team Manager of Horizon Fitness RT.
Jamie Burrow, race consultant for the team continued, "To be honest, that's been essential to us as Dani and Jo have a big program on the track, as they build up for their push for a place in the Team Pursuit squad for London 2012. We need to make sure we develop our other riders as quickly and effectively as possible. But we've had more than just solid working performances from these riders; Annie has won 2 events including a round of the Johnson Health Tech GP, while Hannah has won a round of the National Road Race Series. Penny has maybe been the most consistent rider of the team, and seems to be an ever present name in the top 10 of major events."
"People will look at the last 2 rounds of the Tour Series and say there has been domination by the Horizon Fitness team, but that's something we hope will be increasingly hard in the future. We believe the team will face strong challenges from the increasing number of teams in the UK. ‘For Viored' have already shown how strong they can be and they're only in their first year of racing. Teams like Inverse are also new for 2011 and we'd expect them to keep getting stronger over the coming years. Having more top quality races in the UK, where the best teams meet each other on a regular basis is also going to very important in developing the teams, including ours, and therefore the potential of the sport," continued Jamie.
After finishing the tour series in Woking, the team is taking on the men in the Kalas 2 Day as final preparation for the National Championships. "Nationals won't be easy, but we can challenge on two fronts as we have strong riders for the U23 and senior title." commented Annie Simpson. "Dani is very strong, and with riders like Claire and Jo pushing for top finished in the race as well, we're confident we can be in the mix at the end of the event" continued Simpson.
"Another part of our development has been raising our profile off the bike. A new website has changed the way people view and have access to the team. This, in tandem with the performance of the riders, has put us in a very strong position for 2012. We hope to take another huge step forward next year and certainly feel we've laid solid foundations in the start of this year to give future partners confidence in our vision and set-up.
"We have a huge month of racing planned in July, where Hanka will be joining us for 2 UCI ranked stage races. For us to have a rider of Hanka's class on the squad is fantastic. It'll be full gas for everyone as we look to help her gain a great result in the stage races. Putting our young riders alongside one of the greatest ever female riders is a fantastic prospect." concluded Wyman.
photos Janos Schmidt