Since being accepted into the Skoda DSI Academy in Spring 2021, Olivia’s summer of cycling has included winning her first races, participating in the Tour Series, and taking guidance from her academy mentor, Dame Sarah Storey.
This year, after snaking its way up the country, the North West of England played host to stage five of the 2021 Tour of Britain. It seemed apt that the race would begin at Alderley Park, a mere 10-minute ride from Olivia’s home.
Skoda had chosen stage 5 for the academy team to watch and host a catch up with Dame Sarah Storey on the team’s own personal goals and of course to congratulate her on her unbelievable achievements in Tokyo!
We caught up with Olivia to find out more about this event and what it was like seeing a Paralympic gold medal up close!
We met at the start line about 2 hours before the race would start, and it was so nice to see the whole team again. This was the first time we’d all been together since our first training camp in June!
We conducted a few interviews and had pictures taken on the start line as Sarah addressed the large crowd that had begun to gather to catch a glimpse of the riders rolling out.
A34 Crossroads Viewing Point
Our plan from there was to leave before the race started and head a few km out to see them go past into a tight right hander. The corner we stood on was packed with spectators, and many of the ŠKODAs stopped to say hello as they drove past on the route. We didn’t have to wait long to see the race pass – at very high speed! You really got a sense of how fast they were actually going when the following support cars went past.
Blacky Bank KOM
From there, it was all aboard the Storey train with a quick ride to one of the SKODA KOMs of the day, a short and sharp climb called Blacky Bank.
The break came over the top with roughly a 3 min advantage on the bunch. The atmosphere was electric with hundreds of people lining the streets to support the race and cheer on the riders. It was so good to see so many people getting excited by cycling and great that the ToB can bring such a big bike race right to people’s front door.
We really enjoyed talking to some of the spectators about the SKODA DSI Cycling academy and women’s cycling before we prepared to depart for the finish.
Sarah had to dash off at this point, heading to catch a train to London for the National Television Awards, but before she did, we were lucky to be able to take a look at her gold medals from Tokyo, which was pretty surreal.
To be able to rely on Sarah as an advisor and see first-hand how much she has achieved is so motivational and all of us have definitely been given a boost watching her successes.
The Finish Line
We were then shuttled from the KOM to the finish in Warrington where we watched the rest of the day’s action from the VIP area (whilst being treated to some much-needed food)!
Hundreds more people had gathered to watch what would be a sprint finish into the town centre and with a crash on the last corner, it was definitely a dramatic one!
It was great to see British rider Ethan Hayter, fresh back from Tokyo, take the stage win and the leader’s jersey. We were in awe of the amazing talent both within the race, and also the spectator areas – being lucky enough to rub shoulders with a few other Olympians, added to the overall experience and provided some serious inspiration.
Thank you to all the Skoda team who made it an amazing day out and I can’t wait to be back together watching The Women’s Tour in October!