Peloton Watch
  Abby-Mae Parkinson turns professional with Servetto Footon  
  November 5th 2015  
  British Junior Road Race Champion, Abby-Mae Parkinson will turn professional in 2016 having signed a contract to race with the Italian Servetto Footon team.

The 18 year old Yorkshire native started cycling when she was twelve after competing nationally in triathlons, swimming, cross country & fell running. A talented cyclo-cross rider at youth level, Parkinson has turned her focus to the road with the results paying off, as she turns professional just out of the junior ranks.

Parkinson was crowned British Junior Road Race Champion in July on home roads, having finished second at the Ryedale Grand Prix, which incorporated the junior road race. Having finished eighth in the elite women's time trial a month earlier.

The talent for cycling runs in the family with both her parents having ridden competitively. Her mother Lisa Brambani, claimed the British National title four years in a row between 1986 and 89. As well as claiming Commonwealth Games silver in 1990, finishing third overall at the Tour de l'Aude and eleventh in the Olympic Games road race in 1988.

A successful season earned her selection on the Great Britain team for the Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia. After a self described disappointing performance in the time trial Parkinson finished 18th, part of the first main group that raced for fourth in the road race. With teammate Grace Garner claiming seventh it was a successful race for Parkinson as she finished her time as a junior and looks towards 2016.

"It's going to be a big challenge and a huge step for me," Parkinson said on her move to the elite ranks. "I'm under no illusions, it's going to be tough and I'll be doing a fair amount of suffering. I think the race distances will be a bit of a step up but I'm looking forward to the challenge."

PelotonWatch: You have ridden cross, track and road. Is road your focus now going forward or still looking at combining multiple disciplines?

Abby-Mae Parkinson: My main focus will be the road. I'm looking forward to the challenge of the tough euro style races. I do love cross but it's very difficult to combine a full cross season and winter miles at the same time but I'm sure it's something I will go back to. It's very unlikely that I will get to ride the track but I won't be selling my bike, I'd love to do a Six Day style event with a few Madisons!

PW: Won the British Junior Road Race title this year. What does it mean to you?

AMP: Winning the Junior National Road Champs was the highlight of my season. It was on a very tough Yorkshire course and it gave me a huge sense of satisfaction, not only to win but to win in Yorkshire was extra special. To wear the National stripes in European junior races was a fabulous privilege and certainly makes you ride harder!

PW: Competed in both the time trial and road race at the World Championships. Finished in the first main group in the road race and helped Grace Garner to a top 10. How did the racing go for you and what was the experience like?

AMP: I was quite disappointed with my ride in the time trial at the World Champs. I'm not sure what went wrong but I just couldn't get into any sort of time trial rhythm, it didn't 'flow' and that was reflected in my time.

The road race was a fun course, which resulted in a tough race, which I enjoyed. I saw the break go on the cobbled climb but was too far back to get across and consequently spent the rest of the race active in the chase group with Grace. We've been team mates for four years so know each other's strengths and weaknesses, we understand each other and it's great that Grace believes in me to look out for her, although at the end of the worlds there wasn't much leading out as it was such a tough finishing straight! I would have liked the race to have been a lap longer, it was a very short race, but the experience was fantastic.

PW: You have represented Great Britain a number of times as a junior. How important has the support you have received from British Cycling been in your development?

AMP: I've spent the last two years on the BC Olympic Development Programme and it's taught me a great deal about myself and cycling. It's a tough programme, camps are brutal, early starts, ride to the track, track session, lunch, road ride, wash bikes, wash clothes, dinner, workshops, sleep... repeat x 7 days! It's certainly character building but by the end of the two years, strangely, I enjoyed it, it has prepared me for the road ahead.

PW: You signed a contract with Servetto Footon to turn professional in 2016. How did the contract with them come about and what made you want to join the team?

AMP: I was looking for a European team for 2016, Chris Walker knows my riding style, he knew Servetto Footon were looking for another British rider and he felt I would fit in well. He spoke to the team director who looked at my CV and offered me an opportunity. The team are putting together an exciting race programme for me. I'll be starting off with Italian Regional & National races progressing onto bigger events as I hopefully become more confident. It's absolutely perfect, whilst I enjoy racing in Holland & Belgium, the flatter courses don't really suit my riding style, and I'm much more at home in the mountains.

PW: Was your aim when looking for a team for 2016 always to turn professional with a team in Europe and base yourself there?

AMP: Yes, I love the aggressive style of the races in Europe! I have spent a lot of time in the South of France with regular rides into Italy, I totally love the place and I'm sure it won't take me long to settle in. Of course my mother, Lisa Brambani, is of Italian descent so it's like going back to my roots!!

PW: You will have a British teammate in Jessie Walker do you think this is going to be a benefit for both of you?

AMP: I get on very well with Jessie, we've known each other a while, our parents raced together, we're both Yorkshire girls with a sense of humour... What could possibly go wrong?!

PW: Based in Italy next year with the team are you looking forward to adapting to life in Italy and learning the language or a bit nervous?

AMP: I just can't wait to get stuck into the Italian lifestyle, the cycling, the culture, the coffee, the food, it all excites and motivates me. I'm trying to learn Italian, the team wants Jessie & I to speak the language, and we're both up for the challenge!

PW: Goals for 2015? Focus on learning and developing as a rider?

AMP: I want to learn, I'm happy to be an apprentice and I enjoy playing a team role. It's a fantastic opportunity. I can't wait!
 © 2016