Catching up with Ella Harris – Chapter 3

Catching up with Ella Harris – Chapter 3

It’s been a roller coaster first year in the
professional ranks for women’s Zwift Academy winner Ella Harris of New
Zealand, her time so far with the Canyon // SRAM team, one of the best women’s squads
in the world, has seen her continually battle adversity, following some nasty
crashes, but each time she has shown real courage and drive, bouncing back with
impressive results such as eighth overall and the best young rider in the Vuelta
Burgos and a stunning fourth place overall in the Tour of Colorado. These
results, coupled with her single-minded determination and dedication, has seen her earn a place on the national New Zealand team for the elite Women’s World
Road Race championships, in Yorkshire England. A first for a winner of the
Zwift Academy. Well Ella, we’re finally here in
Harrogate, spoke to you a couple of months ago over in Colorado, but can you
really believe that you’re finally here, you’ve been picked for New Zealand. Yeah
it’s pretty surreal I’m very excited to be here, like it’s the biggest event I’ve
ever been to. So yeah, just the whole atmosphere and the hype, it’s pretty
cool. It must mean a lot as well to pull on the national New Zealand colours
and represent your country in a showcase event like this. Yeah, like, I’ve always
dreamed about representing New Zealand at the World Champs but I didn’t think
it would come, like, so soon really. So yeah, it’s pretty special.
Did you ever kind of imagine when you first signed up for this Zwift Academy,
nearly kind of two years ago, 18 months ago, that you’d be here at the World
Championships? Is that something you ever kind of dared to believe? Yeah it’s been
a goal of mine for a while and when I signed for the team I knew that it would
just provide like a great platform to actually improve my riding and gain
experience and then hopefully, be able to prove myself throughout the year so that
potentially I’d be in the mix for a selection, but I didn’t really think it’d
actually happen like… Because obviously I had no idea how the year would go so, yes
it’s pretty cool. And as usual because it’s you, you’ve had a tumultuous season
with injuries. We last spoke in Colorado you just had your collarbone patched up,
and you’ve got a big injury as well that you decked it in France but
thankfully you’re still here. How’s the injury? Yeah not too bad, it’s on the mend. I did a sort of
a Philippe Gilbert-style over a barrier at 65km/h on a French mountain road
but yeah… We could have a little look actually. Yeah I’ll have a
close-up of this. She’s a bit gnarly but on the mend. What’s the plans for
the road race? We know it’s a technical, difficult circuit, even more
so if it’s gonna be like this. What would you be happy with, in relation to
performance on Saturday? I don’t really know what to expect to be honest because
the World Champs is such a different event, dynamic-wise and tactics-wise, due
to the nations and what’s at stake, really. So I have no idea really
quite what to expect about the the racing side of things but in terms of me,
I just just want to ride as well as I can and
hopefully hang in there for as long as I can because it’ll be a race of attrition
ultimately, the strongest riders will will get to the end so I think if I’m
able to make it to the Harrogate circuit then and finish the race, then I’ll be
stoked but yeah to actually be in a reasonable bunch would be would be
awesome as well, and you know there’s always the chance of the early break so… Prior to the Worlds, we caught up with
Tiffany Cromwell in Colorado to ask her how she thought Ella was adapting to
life on the team. So Tiffany, you’ve spent quite a long time now with Ella here in Colorado it’s been, been on the road for a couple of weeks and be
really honest how has Ella kind of settled into the team? Has she changed a
lot? Do you think she’s learnt much over the last kind of five or six months? I
think we’ve seen, you know, huge jumps or leaps and bounds with Ella
like you know when she was came into the team we knew she had a lot of potential, but
she always had a few of her own quirks, I guess you could say. You know she’s from
a very small town in New Zealand, first time properly overseas and hasn’t really
been in a proper team environment before, so it’s kind of like… You’re not an
individual anymore you’re also part of a team like so you know the very first
race I did it with her, I think was Valencia and it was like a one-day race and we
were too far back, and I was like “take me to the front” and she did this monster
turn outside everyone took me up and I was like “okay, it’s cool” looking really
good, and and that’s what we’ve seen like you know she’s getting a bit more of an
idea of like how the racing works but at the same time, she listens to what you
say and would do job that, you know, what you asked her to do, and we could
actually use her in the race and things like that so I think that’s pretty cool
and you know it shows you she’s got great potential as a rider. Ella, there’s
about 20 minutes to go now until the start of the World Road Championships,
your first World Road Championships describe how you’re feeling right now. I
really know how to feel to be honest, it’s pretty exciting. I know it’s gonna be a
really tough day out there but just I don’t really have any expectations so no
no particular ambitions or goals. I just… Just see what happens out there
really. I mean, I saw you the other day on the circuit wearing you know the colors
of your country but to be on the start line in the black and white, you
even got some brand new black and white Oakley’s. It must make you feel very very
proud. Yeah yeah definitely. It’s been a goal of mine for a while to represent
New Zealand and at an elite level, it’s still sinking in a little bit, but yeah
it’s really cool. Ella, very best of luck we’ll see you later. Thank you very much. Well Ella, it’s the day after the women’s
road race, here in the Zwift House, all the staff, packed lunch, watching the
men’s road race it’s been a wonderful atmosphere here but, what about the race
from your perspective because again, you had a little bit of a torrid time, didn’t
you? Yeah, I had a little bit of bad luck at the start, with two bike changes in quite close proximity and then I ended
up feeling a little bit cracked before the major climb of the day, Lofthouse,
after chasing back on but, yeah, I sort of slowly worked my legs into it, but by the
time I hit the Harrogate circuit I was I was pretty cooked so my legs didn’t
really have a bar of it and I dropped from the peloton with like 25k to
go. I’m still you know pretty satisfied with my efforts and place to
finish my first World Champs. You must have learned a lot on the day
about yourself and also about the level that you kind of need to be at. I mean
you’re still a young woman, you’ve got a lot of learning to do, but the World
Championships, what a thing to be exposed to. Yeah yeah it
was definitely a lot harder than I thought it was going to be, like I
assumed it would sort of be similar to a WorldTour race, but the pace was still
just… It was relentless, really, it was just constantly on and there was no time
to relax or just take it easy in the bunch. So yeah it was definitely a step
up from even just a WorldTour race. Now looking ahead to next year, good news,
some more good news for Ella, you got a contract again, you know your contract’s
being renewed, so year two, you must be pretty happy with that, so what are your
goals, and what’s the feeling about having another year? Yeah yeah, I’m
really excited now that I know what I’m in for, and I’ve experienced and learnt a
lot this year. I can build on it and actually have a fair idea of what to
expect and from there I can just just improve and hopefully grow as a cyclist.
Nice one. We’ll be speaking to very soon. Yeah! In being rewarded with a brand new
contract for the 2020 season, Ella can continue to grow as a rider
and as a person, within an environment that has enabled her to flourish. We can’t
wait to see what the 2020 season brings for her. And, talking of 2020, make sure you
watch out for the next Canyon // SRAM Zwift Academy, coming very soon.

Comments (2)

  1. Go Ella. Good luck for 2020!

  2. Kasia Niewiadoma ? POLAND ? Brawo Pozdrawiamy serdecznie z CHICAGO ?????????

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