- Posted by Louise Mahé
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Cycling Weekly will have a rider blogging from every round of this year's Tour Series, offering insight, comment and humour from the fast-paced proceedings.
Mule Bar Girl rider and CW writer Louise Mahé rode the inaugural Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix back in 2010. This week she explains how the series has developed over three years and her behind the scenes journey just to make it to the start line.
I remember, back in 2010, going up to Stoke-on-Trent for the first Grand Prix that was put on as a support race to the men's Tour Series round, and loving it!
Obviously it was a success with the organisers too as a year later we had few more races and now the Johnson Health Tech Grand Prix is a solid feature within the Tour Series setup, with the ladies racing at five rounds of the 11 venues the men visit.
With this amazing platform being given to us to showcase women's racing it really motivates me, and many other riders, to get stuck in to some hard and serious racing. That in turn helps to encourage more races onto the calendar and to attract both sponsors and interest in domestic women's racing.
Mahé congratulates individual winner and teammate Natalie Creswick (l)
Unlike the men racing the Tour Series, very few of the ladies competing are full time bike riders; the majority juggle work or studies alongside their racing and training schedules. However for a South Londoner like me it can take up a whole day to get up the more northerly races, with yesterday's round at Stoke being no exception.
As a team, and from past experience, we decided it was best to get a train up to Stoke from Euston, which I almost missed. If you saw a person in white kit gunning it through London with a pair of wheels strapped to their rucksack on Tuesday...that would have been me!
Once up in Stoke we had an hour or so to relax and have some coffee and cake before making our way to sign on and changing. After doing this we rode the five minutes up to the circuit and were presented to the crowd.
Although I remember the circuit, we rode a few laps of the circuit to reacquaint ourselves with it and then went to the pit where the lovely Becky from IG-Sigma Sport was there with turbos set up for us to warm up on, which would be used an hour later by the men on the IG-Sigma Sport team. Having support like this is vital for Tour Series events as it's flat out racing from the gun.
Then it was time to hit the start line. The atmosphere is always a buzz and it always makes my stomach flutter with a mix of nerves and excitement, with crowds banging the boards, music pumping and the commentator geeing it all up. Finally the claxon sounds and it's full on race mode, all thoughts and emotions disappear.
Johnson Health Tech GP Series round one photo gallery
UK Youth top Tour Series standings after Stoke-on-Trent
Tour Series blog #2: Rob Adlard (Velo29-Blackhawk) in Durham
Tour Series blog #1: Tom Murray (Metaltek-Knights of Old) in Kirkcaldy
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