Peloton Watch
  Hayley Jones back on the track targeting 2018 Commonwealth Games  
  September 27th 2017  
  Hayley Jones in action at the Revolution Series in 2014. Photo: Neville Styles / Alamy  
  Twelve months ago Hayley Jones hung up her track bike electing to fully commit to a career on the road leaving her track success in the past. A broken collarbone mid season gave Jones who turned 22 this week, a new perspective on her career. As she realised she had unfinished business on the track with the 2018 Commonwealth Games presenting a rare opportunity to represent Wales on the world stage.

For Jones who raced at the Glasgow Games as an 18-year-old the Commonwealth Games runs in the family with her mother Louise the first woman to win gold in cycling when she took out the sprint in 1990.

While most definitely Welsh, Jones has also called Queensland home for much of the last decade after moving to Australia following the 2006 Commonwealth Games where Louise acted as a commissaire, a role she will hold again on the Gold Coast.

With three track events in the legs starting with Dublin Track Cycling, Jones has started to find her track brain that saw her claim the junior team pursuit world title and bronze in the points race in 2013, as she took out the scratch race at Panevezys in early September.

After finishing her road season at the Madrid Challenge, Jones is back in Australia training on the Anna Meares Velodrome, which will host the track cycling programme next year before returning to Wales later in the year as she pushes for selection to the Welsh Team for the Commonwealth Games at the UCI Track World Cups.

Post April next year where Jones hopes to ride both on the track and the road she will continue her career on the road, having re-signed with Team WNT for the 2018 season.

After leaving the British Cycling Academy at the end of last year you said you were fully focused on the road for the next few years however made the decision to return to the track in the second half of this year what changed your mind? Selection in the Welsh team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games a big focus?

I have done a few interviews with you over the last few years about what I want to do with my cycling and was set on sticking to the road from this season onwards but with crashing mid season and breaking my collarbone I had a new perspective on my cycling career.

I was always more of a track rider and definitely still feel I have more to give in the team pursuit on the track. Being Welsh the Commonwealth Games is important, as it is the only chance of riding for Wales and it only comes around every four years, so for me that is my next aim.

I am also very lucky Team WNT Pro Cycling are supporting me next year through the in the process of trying to make selection for both track and road for Commonwealth Games moving into next season.

Team pursuit has been added to the programme and Wales is likely to have a strong team with the likes of Elinor Barker, Manon Lloyd, Ciara Horne, Megan Barker, Jess Roberts and yourself among potential riders hard team to make?

Wales will have a very strong team for the track, to make the team is going to be incredibly hard, there is everyone you mentioned plus a few more very good girls fighting for four spots. I have a tough few months ahead to get the track legs back and to be at the pace of the best riders in the world.

As well as the team are pursuits are the points and scratch races events you are looking to put your hand up for? Have an eye on the road race as well?

The points and scratch races are also on the cards for me. Bunch races are what keep the training and racing fun (well to me). After time away from the track I am planning on racing as much as possible over the winter to ensure I am at the level I need to be, both physically and mentally.

The road race is also one of my goals; having seen the course already it is technical, short sharp climbs and fast, just what I like. I was nervous as the course could of gone into the mountains around the Gold Coast and then it would not of been so good for me.

Your mother was the first woman to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal in cycling hoping to follow in her footsteps?

Of course that is the goal, she was the first gold medal for Wales and leading into the 2014 games I was asked this question a lot. At the time I was 18 and I knew it was not a possibility but I had one of the best experiences of my life there. Going into 2018 I still believe it will be very hard to win but it is on the list for something I want to achieve before the end of my cycling career.

With the Games on the Gold Coast in Queensland a place you now call home is that a further motivating factor in returning to the track?

It did not make to much difference for aiming to ride track, I spent all of last Australian summer in Brisbane and didn't touch the track once. I was so adamant I would never ride track again I didn't even want to ride on it.

I was aiming to make the team for the road race and time trial as my parents and friends would all come out to watch, which is an experience I do not get a lot being in Europe. Now with the prospect of track also it would be good for them all to be there watching.

First competitions back on the track were the Dublin Track Cycling International and GP Prostejov how did they go? Take a bit of adjusting after time away?

In the lead up to Dublin I did one track session on a bike Welsh Cycling had kindly sorted for me the week of the race to ensure I could race to start my hunt for some UCI points to qualify for the World Cups. I had a shock back in the bunch, there were a lot more people at the race that expected which made for some good racing. As the weekend went on my racing brain improved and by the last event I finally found some track legs again.

Between Dublin and Prostejov I had a big block of training and racing with my road team WNT Pro Cycling and tried to fit a few track sessions in here and there. I landed from the Ladies Tour of Norway on the Monday and was racing on Thursday on the track, from racing 160k of climbing to 10k scratch race three days later!

Continued return at Panevezys winning the scratch race and finishing equal sixth in the omnium starting to get your feel and confidence back?

I had a week between races, and I was nervous for Panevezys, as it was my first race back on an indoor track. You definitely have to race with your head more indoors and the short straights so it is hard to sprint around late.

In the scratch race I was off the front with another girl and managed to stay away and take the win. The next day in the omnium I was consistent, though I didn't feel good all day on the bike until the last points race. I think the amount of road riding I have done this year starts to kick in after two days of racing when other people are starting to get tired.

Spent much of the year racing on the road with WNT your first full road season how have you found it?

I have loved every moment of this year with WNT. We are a smaller team in the terms of UCI but for the first season I think it's been very successful for both me and overall for the team.

The season started off in Belgium and the Netherlands, I then crashed in Omloop Van Borsele and broke my collarbone meaning a month off racing. To return to the OVO Women's Tour, I would have to say it was the hardest race I have ever done with one week of road prep before hand. I went to do my job and that's what I did, but I thought I was going so badly there and that my season was done. The injury had ruined everything and my world was falling apart…

It was okay though and by the time nationals came around two weeks later I was back to fitness and the rest of the season has gone well since. I even decided at Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour I might become a climber but then decided I was probably better on the flatter races.

Finished your road season at Madrid Challenge and now turn to track season what is ahead for you and what are your goals?

After Madrid Challenge I had a mini holiday to Barcelona with my teammate and friend Eileen Roe, we went for a few days break. It was soon back to business with a customer ride for our main sponsor WNT, through the peak district in the UK. Lets just leave it at "this ride is going to be a struggle".

I am back in Brisbane for a few weeks to catch up with everyone, drink some good coffee and get back into training. This time I will be going on the Anna Meares Velodrome. Then it is back to Wales for the start of track season, where I will be based near the track in South Wales to train. With most of the other girls in Manchester I will be spending a lot of time with Ciara Horne to train for the team pursuit.

I also have my eye on the Revolution Series and the bunch races at the World Cups. Track nationals are in January where I want to do well and I am looking to get back to doing some individual pursuit training as that used to be my goal event back in the junior days.

Broken collarbone forced you to miss more than a month of racing in the middle of the season looking back now do you think it has been a blessing in disguise to have that break mid season?

At the time I hated life, 10 days of no bike, three weeks of gym and turbo. I fell in love with the gym but nope turbo is not and will never be my friend. I was lucky enough for Welsh Cycling to sort me a Wattbike to use as this split the sessions up.

However the time off and recovery really did help the back end of my season. Last year come August I was starting to struggle, I had been going for almost a year with no break and was ready to not look at my bike for a while. This year my July, August, September have been some of the best races I have done, Madrid would have to be my favourite, suited me perfectly.

After just four days off my bike I was already excited to get back to it as there is so much to look forward to over the next 12 months.
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