DAME SARAH STOREY
Tuesday 5th June 2018
Next week, the OVO Women's Tour of Britain kicks off. It's attracted a range of big names from the women's circuit and one team looking to make themselves the team to look out for is the Storey Racing Team, a domestic outfit filled with promising talent backed by an inspirational Paralympian. Dame Sarah Storey has been there, done that, brought the t-shirt, ridden the bike, won the race and is still doing it. She is now in the process of passing on her expertise and nurturing the next batch of riders who dream of having a list of achievements as impressive as hers. We asked the Dame about the tour, the team's chances in grabbing some stages and what do her riders actually call her?! Dame, boss, gaffer?!!!....
What a pleasure to have the opportunity to interview someone so inspirational in the world of not just cycling, but in world sport. Our first question and it’s probably one that your riders had to ask when they first signed up to your team, do they call you Dame, Sarah or gaffer perhaps?!
I’m just Sarah, there’s no airs and graces and so far no one has ever asked that when they join the team! And I honestly wouldn’t expect them to!
Your palmares is a list which probably makes most of the peloton very jealous. Is there one achievement which stood out for you above them all?
That’s a really tricky one because I’ve raced across so many different events within both swimming and cycling. I’m most proud of the depth of success I’ve had and that I’m still going strong! I’ve been fortunate to set new targets in almost every year of my career too which is exciting. Having my daughter in Rio probably tops the pile though, to win with her cheering was very cool!
The Storey Racing team is now into it’s second year and looking strong on the cycling scene. When was the moment when you decided I want to run my own team or was it by chance that things just happened to fall into place?
Alongside my husband I have been running a cycling team since 2013. Our previous set-up failed due to financial challenges and so we started again with a smaller race programme and the same drive to make it work and try and grow it. I wouldn’t say everything has fallen in to place yet either, we are a very small team run by volunteers and without a budget to pay riders or do a full race calendar. We target races that are key to our sponsors and are always working to find the brand/firm that will fill our Lead Partner vacancy. Our sponsors are fantastic people, small brands and developing businesses, we are on a journey with them as they look to grow too. We are fortunate to work with sponsors who are keen to be hands on and add additional value in other ways, so the result is a very well polished set up that can look after the riders as they look to progress to a bigger team.
Our trade is in teaching and it’s kinda frowned upon to have favourites but are there any riders you have real high hopes for or any who can eventually match your own achievements?
We have high hopes for all our riders as they all have slightly different targets and skills, so it’s probably similar to being a teacher where you recognise differing levels of potential. Whilst we pull together as a unit to create results we also know where each rider would like to be from a personal perspective and work to help them achieve that. We are also realistic about where riders are, so whilst one might be looking towards World Tour results, another is perfecting their domestique duties or Time Trial ability.
Onto to the tour. Looking through the teams this year, there are some big hitters. Is this a testament as to how far the exposure of women’s cycling has come and how much more needs to be done to bring it to an even wider audience?
I think the WT has always attracted the big hitters. Previous winners include Lizzie Armitstead and Lisa Brennaur, both World Champions. The riders love to race here because of the crowds and the standard of the experience. There’s no campsites and caravans like some races in France have! Everywhere the Tour goes it captures the hearts of the people, we now need to media outlets to focus on it to a greater extent, cover it in the sports news and show it live on TV. There’s no better way of creating positive female role models.
The announcement of equal prize money is we think long overdue but a big step in the right direction. Do you think though women’s cycling should have it’s own identity in terms of races or should it be whatever the men are doing, the women should do too?
Whether we race on the same route on the same day or have races at different time of year the financial side should never be different. We need equal everything, prize money is great but that goes to the riders, the teams need to have live TV so they can provide greater return on investment and therefore attract bigger sponsorship packages which would give a higher chance of riders being paid a minimum wage.
So is it the target of stage wins or the overall tour for the Storey Racing girls? The races that we have seen this year on the women’s circuit have always been so open so we’re expecting a level of unpredictability!
Expect the big teams to be attempting to control the race in the early stages, with breakaways going early and teams trying to isolate the big names. The final stage is in Snowdonia so the winning move will most likely be a small or solo breakaway. For Storey Racing we are an opportunistic team at this level, looking to get in breakaways, be involved in a jersey competition if possible and take the chances and risks without the pressure on us.
We’ve always wondered why events such as the Women’s Tour and the Tour of Britain try not to cover the whole of the British Isles. Obviously, funding and logistics is a big hurdle but where would you like the races to visit in the future?
Covering the whole country would need a lot of travel support (the men have private planes for the long transfers in the Tour de France) but the race does pretty well for 5 days and the men have been from Scotland to Wales in 7 previously. This year the race has some long transfers and so the race has to follow a route that is doable for riders and staff it also has to be in reach of the ports for teams travelling over so those logistics often limit the locations. I’d love to see a race in the north of England, taking in the Lake District, Northumberland, Yorkshire and Lancashire as well as a TT or TTT to add extra spice to a lot of hilly stages.
Looking ahead to the next Paralympics in Tokyo 2020, will you be making an appearance or will you be pushing your others into national selection for either the Olympic or Paralympic games?
My plan is to be in Tokyo and I’d love to see other Storey Racing riders make the cut. We have trike specialist Hannah Dines in the team and she was in Rio, so I’d love to see her selected again too. Within the squad we have a couple of GB funded track riders who will be hopeful of a team pursuit or madison selection.
Thank you for your time and we wish the team all the best for the Women’s Tour, safe to say you’ll be our adopted team for the race!