Hayley Simmonds aiming to secure Great Britain second Olympic time trial spot
Hayley Simmonds will have an eye on Tokyo when she takes to the roads of Yorkshire in the UCI Road World Championships on Tuesday.
The two-time former British time trial champion knows a medal will likely be beyond her in Tuesday’s race against the clock given the strength of the field.
But she is targeting a top-10 finish which would earn Great Britain a second place in the Olympic time trial next year.
“Finishing in the top 10 is going to be hard, I’m aware of that, but it would be the dream result,” Simmonds told the PA news agency.
“If we get that, Britain suddenly goes from having one to two slots for Tokyo and that can make a big difference. A good result here puts me in a good position going into an Olympic year.”
Simmonds comes into the race after some encouraging results this year, finishing third in the European Games in Minsk and seventh in the European Championships in Alkmaar last month – despite the best efforts of a bee to disrupt her early in the 22 kilometre effort.
“About three kilometres in I felt something hit my helmet and then bounce on to my arm – initially I thought it was just a leaf or a stone,” said Simmonds, who is allergic to bee stings.
“Then I glanced down and saw something yellow and black, and thought, ‘Oh no’.
“I could feel it sting me and the stinger was in my arm for 18 or 19 kilometres. I tensed up, freaked out. Whether or not it affected me physically straight away I don’t know but it was in my brain.
“The next day, my arm was quite something to behold.”
Simmonds, British time trial champion in 2015 and 2016, finished second in this year’s national time trial to Alice Barnes, who will be Britain’s other rider in Tuesday’s race.
The 24-year-old, who doubles up as the national road champion, claims she remains something of a novice when it comes to time trialling, even if her results say otherwise.
It was Barnes’ move to Canyon-SRAM in 2018 which led her to put more emphasis on the discipline with Dan Bigham – part of the GB team that took bronze in the team time trial mixed relay on Sunday – working with the team on aerodynamics.
“It’s still quite a new discipline for me,” Barnes said. “This is the first time where I’ve really been able to focus on the time trials and had time to specifically train for it.”
Tuesday’s other race will be the men’s under-23 time trial, in which British eyes will be on Charlie Quarterman, the 21-year-old whose prowess against the clock has earned him a move to WorldTour team Trek-Segafredo from next season.
Quarterman said he was still pinching himself at the news months after he was first told, but has been encouraged by the experience of riding a couple of races for his new team as a stagiaire this season.
“It’s been a bit of an eye-opener, but I’m relieved to know the level isn’t from another world,” he said. “Physically, they’re not inhuman, which is a relief because on TV you can imagine that they are.”