DB: You were an absolute CRUSHER in the Olympic road race. It was so fun to watch. Tell me about your racing style and will you be approaching saturday’s race similarly?
EP: Thanks! The Olympic road race was fun… I had a job to do there to set it up for Lizzie. I don’t know if the worlds road race on Saturday will be the same, I doubt it really, but I normally race pretty aggressively because I don’t like getting to the finish with a big bunch. Because I’m rubbish at sprinting!
DB: The end of this race on the Cauberg is tailor made for you, but then there are 1700 meters of flatish terrain to the finish from the top of the climb. What is your predication for how the race will play out? How do you want to see it play out?
EP: I can tell you it feels like a really long way from the top of the Cauberg to the finish line. There’s time for almost anything to happen – for the race to regroup, or for a few riders to stay away.
DB: What is your favorite aspect of racing? What do you love so much about our sport?
EP: I enjoy racing most when it gets hard. The hanging around waiting, being patient, saving energy, I’m not good at. But I enjoy it when it gets tough and I feel like I’m pushing myself harder than ever before. It’s really satisfying to give absolutely everything you have physically, especially in a team sport where you know your teammates are also doing the same. Helping someone else to win is normally actually more satisfying than winning yourself.
DB: What are the particulars about this course that play to your strengths?
EP: There are some hills in it! Although I would prefer less flat in between and a more technical descent…
DB: How did you maintain focus and energy for Worlds after such an intense competition as Olympics?
EP: It’s a tough year with the Olympics. There is so much focus and pressure on that event, afterwards it can be hard to get training again. But I love riding my bike so after a few days with my family in the UK post-olympics, going running instead of riding, I was pretty keen to get training again. And since London I have actually had way more fun racing than earlier in the year – my pro team was not being very supportive so I just picked some races that I really wanted to do, and arranged to go by myself. It was a bit of a hassle but well worth it. I did a cyclosportive in the Alps (the Haute Route) which was brilliant fun – lots of mountains, long hard stages, and I met so many enthusiastic and friendly cyclists. And then the Tour de l’Ardeche which is a stage race I love. Those races, plus getting back to the training I enjoy with friends at home in the hills round Zürich, that kept me motivated.
DB: How did it make you feel when Bradley Wiggins announced he would be financially backing women’s cycling next season?
EP: I don’t know the details of what Brad said about women’s cycling, or whether anything will come of it next season, but I do think that it’s fantastic that he spoke up about it. His support even just mentioning the issue will make a big difference to women’s cycling I think, because he has such a huge public profile and so much respect. There are actually a lot of people out there who care a lot about women’s cycling and are trying to improve the state of affairs for us – even in the UCI! It’s just that not much ever seems to get done. I really hope that the Olympics might change that a bit – everyone who watched the women’s race in London was impressed by it and said it made fantastic spectating. I hope all those people will demand to see more women’s racing on TV and that the UCI & TV broadcasters will listen to them…
Interview by Dotsie Bausch of Cyclingillustrated