A CHANGE of pace for me this Saturday as I take a break from Team WIGGINS and GB track training to go and watch some cycling for once.

I’ll be at the Aviva Women’s Tour at Stoke on Saturday, with one of my sponsors, PedalSure, the team I rode for in last winter’s Revolution track series.

It’s nice to spend time with people who have given me a lot of support and done a lot for the sport but, also, it’s a chance to meet other cycling fans and talk about what’s going on.

But, just as importantly, I think it’s great to be able to support such a high-profile women’s race at a time when their side of the sport is taking such great strides forward.

If you grew up in the British Cycling system, like I did, then you’re well aware of the talent, ability, dedication that our riders have shown over the years. And the efforts of the likes of Victoria Pendleton, Laura Trott, Sarah Storey, Jo Rowsell, Becky James and many, many more have done wonders in terms of the profile of women’s cycling and, more importantly, been an inspiration for thousands of young girls to take up the sport. 

A couple of decades ago, you might have found girls a lot less able, and willing, to try sports like cycling. Now, there are lots of opportunities for them to do so.

My mum, and fiancee Lauren, are keen cyclists too, so there was never any danger of me being allowed to under-estimate the importance of women in the sport!

Mum on an appropriate col ... 

Mum on an appropriate col ... 

Now, where the British women have led on the track, it looks as though women’s road racing is catching up and, quite rightly, the prize money available is finally catching up too.

Regardless of whether you’re a man or woman, I challenge anyone to watch someone like Marianne Vos in full flight and not think that’s an inspirational sight.

Mum teaching me a thing or two about climbing!

Mum teaching me a thing or two about climbing!

 

I’m looking forward to Saturday for the chance to actually watch some cycling for once. Like a lot of pro cyclists, I don’t actually spend much time watching the sport.

I often chat with mates who ask me what I thought about a big race on TV and have to tell them I don’t know what they’re talking about! 

I think it’s the simple fact that when you spend all day, every day focusing on a “job” - even one as enjoyable as professional sport - then when you get home at night and are resting on the sofa, you’re more likely to want to watch Netflix or play on your PlayStation than tune into Eurosport to watch a bunch of your fellow cyclists suffering in a race.

This weekend I’ll be switching from fan to racer pretty quickly as, after Stoke, I head to the north-east on Sunday to ride in the Beaumont Trophy for the WIGGINS team.

It’s a race which Brad himself has won a couple of times the last few years and another of our riders, Chris Latham, won it last year although he was riding for GB at the time. It’s also a UCI race and, being in front of British fans, one of the more important ones on our calendar.

It’s a good race and a tough one and I’ll be hoping to be in contention for a decent result. It’s the sort of race where a bunch of 10 or 15 riders might get away and, if they do, hopefully I can be among them and in the mix at the end.

Aside from this weekend’s fun - and many hours spent at the velodrome - life has settled into a fairly routine pattern. 

The most exciting thing I can tell you about is my plan to change to a faster broadband connection at home! Hopefully, something more interesting will happen this weekend that I can tell you about.

ANDY