A quick look into my journey to qualify for the Movistar E-Team - with some power data thrown in there too!
My coach, Ronan McLaughlin of Panache Coaching, was the one who suggested to me that I try out for the Movistar team. He messaged me at the end of January, a couple of weeks into my comeback from Covid, and told me to check it out. His words were ‘How are you feeling about Zwift racing?’ to which I responded ‘Please, no’! I really didn’t feel like I was ready for doing it, I felt like I had lost a lot of fitness from Covid and Zwift racing is so so hard - if you know, you know! It’s really different to road racing because it’s just full-on efforts for about an hour. There were qualifying races on the first week in February and I was hesitant to do it – just because I didn’t think I was fit enough after having Covid.
There were a couple different ways to qualify – the open community qualifiers (which I qualified through) and the qualifiers for riders who already raced in the top divisions on Zwift. The top 5 got through from the open community rounds so I managed to time my sprint well enough so that I came 4th. Then for the next 2 weeks, I did 2 races each week with the qualifiers from the open rounds and the more experienced Zwift racers. These races were so so tough. It was a really brilliant way for me to build up that fitness I needed, and I just kept taking part thinking it was great that I was improving my fitness - never thinking I would get on to the final team!
I was feeling pretty frustrated once I realised that the 2021 season was going to be a very different season again. A lot of the bigger World Tour and UCI teams are now coming to do the UCI races in Belgium, which means that smaller teams like Keukens Redant don’t get to take part in them. So I think that taking part in this Movistar challenge was just my way of being proactive and getting that energy and that frustration out in a positive way. I can’t change the fact that I don’t have many road races but I can try and make the best out of the situation we are all in.
We started the Zwift Racing League Premier Division this week so it will be a busy 8 weeks ahead. I’m looking forward to seeing how this online racing helps me improve on the road. I lack explosivity so I’m excited to work on that with the guidance of the Movistar coaches.