Welsh Schoolgirl Alex Greenfield has put in some awesome performances over the past year, leading her into the top ranks on the track throughout the Manchester Revolution series. However Alex is not just satisfied by blowing away the competition in her own age category and last Monday she really made her mark on the senior race scene.
The young Cardiff Ajax rider entered a senior men’s forth cat crit race in Cardiff and won it. Still not satisfied, she got back on her bike and went on to gain ninth position in the 1,2,3 cat senior men’s race. An impressive result made even better by the fact that she is just 15 years old!
Welsh Coach Courtney Rowe explains why, “from a coaches point of view, Alex is a dream.”
“The hard part is getting her off the track. She just wants to do more. We are off to Majorca on the 14th April for a week (53 of us). She is already asking how many miles will we do. I can’t say how many we did last year but Alex wants to put 120 on top for this year. The main difference this year to last is strength. Now Alex can do damage at the front. Last year it was all coming off a wheel.
“Last year it was go out with the seniors and turn short. This year by the end it’s just a couple of seniors and loads of children. One big change to our training this winter is we don’t ease over the top of the hills to wait for people to get back on. If you are dropped we sent the strong riders back for you. a few times this year its been Alex going back for Brian her Dad. That is our strong point TEAM WORK and TEAM SPIRIT.
“Our aims this year are the same as every other year. Have fun and race at the highest level we can be competetive in.”
If this is the shape of things to come, we can expect great things from this rider. We caught up with Alex at Manchester velodrome to chat about her hopes for the future.
Where and when did you start cycling competitively and how did you get into it?
I became involved with cycling when after my Dad started riding a bike. I tried riding on a track bike with lots of other youngsters at Maindy Track when I was 8. It was great fun and I met lots of other children who also wanted to ride and race. The club was coached by Debbie Wharton who encouraged us all to have fun and enjoy riding. She told us that as youngsters we should race to train but as we developed we would train to race. As I slowly developed I joined some of the other more experienced riders to train under the guidance of Courtney Rowe.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years? What are your ambitions
in cycling- Are you setting your sights on the London Olympics in years to
I hope to keep cycling for a very long time and see myself riding competitively in the future. I would like to become a professional cyclist and compete against the top riders in the world. This year my objective is to achieve membership of British Cycling’s Olympic Development Programme, ODP. The thought of riding the Olympics in London in front of a home crowd would be amazing and I definitely want the opportunity to race there.
Who has been your idol in the Cycling world- who do you admire or who
inspires you to train?
One of my main idols in the cycling world is Nicole Cooke. Her determination and commitment to achieve world status is undeniable. Many other British riders have also shown that Great Britain can be up there in the top world rankings.How intense is training at the moment and who is structuring your training?
Training at the moment is pretty hard but I enjoy it that way. At the moment I am training for about 4 or 5 days a week. Sometimes I vary my training by doing MTB now and then but it is mostly road and track. The training group and I also go to boxing club once a week. My coach is Courtney Rowe and he structures the training programme for a small group of riders like myself. I also get great support from the Welsh Talent Team and its coach, Stuart MacDonlad.Are you purely focusing on the track now or do you race in other disciplines, i.e. road or MTB?
I am an endurance rider both on the track and road. I especially enjoy bunch racing on the track.What’s been your biggest achievement so far with your cycling?
My biggest achievement in my cycling was winning the U14 National Track Championship in 2004, but every race is a challenge. I enjoy the experience of racing against other riders and have competed successfully in road races in Holland and Ireland over the last couple of years.What’s the best thing and the worst thing about all the hard training?
The best thing about putting all this hard work is the sense of achievement that I get out of it. It also gives me a close group of friends I otherwise would not have. The down side is that the commitment to training takes up most of my time so I find it hard socialising with my non-cycling friends.
My club coach, Courtney Rowe, and the Wales Talent Team coach, Stuart MacDonald asked me to ride this year. I was very happy to accept.
What has been the highlight of this year for you, what’s been most
exciting and which race have you enjoyed most?
This year has been very much a development year, but the main highlights have been racing abroad in Achterveld, Holland and Kerry, Ireland.
Was this year’s Revolution the first you’ve ridden? If so, tell us a bit
about your first ‘Revolution’ experience, was it what you expected?
I rode Revolution 6 and 8 last year with some success. It was daunting at first with such a big crowd but as soon as I got into the racing I loved it. It was unbelievable and brilliant.
What’s your favourite track event? Have you set your sights on
specialising in a particular event, e.g. sprint, points?
I don’t really have a specific race on the track that I focus on but I definitely prefer endurance disciplines and the bunch races.
I don’t have one main rival in cycling, there is a lot of good competition out there and I go into each race looking at everyone as a rival. Do you find it hard to juggle training with all your school work?
At the moment I don’t struggle with balancing cycling and homework but I’m sure I will find it harder next year as it will be my GCSE year.And finally, what’s the secret behind the success of the Welsh girls?
There isn’t a secret behind our success, just hard training and an amazing coach, Courtney Rowe. He does a great job for us in preparing training schedules, motivating us when we are tired or having a down day. I also have a great bunch of fellow riders, girls and boys who enjoy riding their bikes all year round and are dedicated to their sport.