This week Voxwomen caught up with Boels-Dolmans rider and British National Cyclocross champion Nikki Harris. Nikki signed with the team in January going straight from the cross season into the road season and so far, things seem to be going pretty well! Boels-Dolmans remain the team to beat this year and Nikki’s presence in breakaways as well as some pretty decent results herself show that she is fitting into her new team quite comfortably. So in-between mastering the art of two disciplines, hopping from classic to classic AND planning a wedding, we caught up with Nikki to see how she was doing.
Q: Your winter program of cyclocross looked pretty hectic from the outside, we are guessing around 30-35 race days, that must be pretty taxing? How have you managed to make the transition so well into the road season? How are you feeling so far?
A: Yep thats right, it’s been pretty full on since September I think I’ve raced almost every weekend bar 2 since that time. It was early on in the cross season when I first signed with Boels that we had discussed using my cross form and going straight into the races on the road. I think most of the transition between them both is more mental than physical. Physically I’m always training hard throughout the whole cross season. I’m racing every weekend but I’m also training hard between the races, not just doing short sessions. During that time I’m also doing a lot of endurance work, so for me that wasn’t a problem at all.
I was so focused for the cross worlds and as soon as that was over, although I was still doing cross races, my mind shifted towards focusing on the start of the road season. Usually after cross worlds you’re creeping from race to race feeling as though you can’t wait for a rest but I had always planned to have my rest this year mid April so having that frame of mind really helped. Whilst most cross riders were winding down I was upping my training in order to keep my form for the start of the classics season. With that I carried confidence straight into the road season and so far its worked well. If I had that choice again then I would definitely go with it because it’s been really great for me. I’ve felt strong in every race I’ve done on the road and have been able to do every job asked of me.
Q: This is also your first real go at the classics, how are you adapting to the cobbles & racing style in Belgium? What has been your favourite race so far?
A: I’m really enjoying it, it’s been great to jump straight in with such a strong team and be able to do what is asked of me. Thats a big motivation and confidence boost in itself. I’ve enjoyed the harder races, when it’s split and it’s our team thats making that happen it’s a good feeling. I really enjoyed Het Nieuwsblad. It was my first race on the road with the team and was a race I hadn’t planned on doing but I rode last minute as Christine was sick. I could race at the front the whole time and in the end we won, which was awesome. Strade Bianche was another one I really enjoyed and for sure one of the hardest races I have ever done. It was just constantly hard and there was no let up. But as mad as it sounds, because I was on my own for 40km I actually had some time to enjoy the terrain! It was one of those races I hated at the time but when I had crossed the line I was really happy!
Q: With Lizzie wearing the rainbow jersey and the team bagging some great results morale in the team must be pretty high. Boels-Dolmans are by far the most successful team so far this year, what do you put this down too? What do you think you do differently to the opposition?
A: I think we work as a team very well. We go into a race with a clear plan but if it looks like its not going quite as we want then we make it happen. We adapt to situations as a team and we have confidence in each others abilities. I feel really relaxed in the team and thats something unique, if you can go into a race and be happy and relaxed then it makes things so much easier.
Q: We all know how quickly a season is over & we know you must be already thinking ahead to cyclocross, how do you plan to hit the next cross season & what are your major goals?
A: Actually, I haven’t thought too much about this at the moment. For now I’m just focused on finishing my first part of the road season well. I will take some time out at the end of April – early May and during that time I will sit down and review the last 12 months. I think its great to have goals but at the same time you can’t fill your head with to many, it’s good to take one block at a time. For sure I’m confident that racing on the road will add another dimension to my cross racing, it’s something I need to move forward. But I have a couple of goals on the road this year that I want to put first. I will make a plan, but for now just one step at a time.
Q: It was released last week that your team have agreed a new 2 year deal with Boels Rental & Dolmans Group. That must be great news for you and the team?
A: Yes its fantastic news for the the whole team and for women’s cycling. It is a great boost that sponsors can see the future in our sport. I’m sure they see how the sport is growing year in year out and for them to put that belief in us is huge for women’s cycling.
Q: So cycling aside, as if you’re not busy enough trying to take on two disciplines, you get married in a few weeks. How are things going with the planning?
A: I’m actually really well prepared and relaxed about the whole thing. Me and Matt (Team Dimension Data) have been taking our time planning it now for 2 years so its actually been really enjoyable to do alongside the cycling. Everyone keeps saying ‘ahh you must be so stressed, how can you fit everything in’ but I think it’s definitely down to good planning. I actually really like planning and making lists so everything is good to go! I will be looking forward to switching off from cycling for that time and enjoying the whole build up to the big day!
Photo Credits: (Getty Images Sport)