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  Hayley Jones returns to British Cycling Academy to continue development  
  May 13th 2016  
  2013 junior team pursuit world champion Hayley Jones has returned to Great Britain with a spot on British Cycling's Senior Academy as she hopes to continue her development on the track.

Jones who will turn 21 in September, started cycling nearly 15 years ago following encouragement from her mother Louise. Now a UCI commissaire who can be found officiating at some of the biggest events in the sport across the globe, but is best known as the first woman to win cycling gold at the Commonwealth Games, taking the sprint title in 1990.

"My mother Louise has been a big influence on my career," Jones said. "She got me and my brother on our first road and track bikes when I was only six years old and I will always strive to being as good as she was."

Following in her mothers footsteps from a young age, Jones first shot to prominence on the international stage claiming team pursuit gold at the UCI Junior Track World Championships in 2013. Where along with Amy Hill, Emily Kay and Emily Nelson, they broke Australia's run of five victories since the event was introduced. Jones also claimed bronze in the points race.

"It meant a lot winning junior worlds, only a few weeks prior we were struggling as a team and thought we would be lucky to get top five. We were all committed and come race day we really came together as a team with the help of our coach Matt Winston."

A year later Jones would return to Glasgow, the location of her world championship success, this time representing Wales at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"Being only 18 at the Commonwealth Games it was an amazing experience," explained Jones. "Hopefully going forward to 2018 I can make the team again, especially as they are at the Gold Coast on many familiar training roads, and I know exactly what to expect.

"I raced both the track and road at Glasgow but coming off a bad track crash only a few weeks before I did not have the fitness I was expecting to have and the results weren't there but it is a special experience to represent Wales."

Despite her success before turning 20 Jones's ability to represent Great Britain the past two years has been limited living on the other side of the world and outside the British Cycling system.

"It greatly restricted my options," said Jones on her opportunities to pull on the GB jersey. "I did a bit of track racing in Australia but living in Queensland with no indoor track I was having to pay to travel to races around the country.

"While being in Australia I could not race for Britain as it is mainly based around team pursuit, so being in Australia meant not being able to train with the team and fight for a team place in major races."

With her options to represent Great Britain and compete on the track at the highest level limited, Jones was left with a decision on how to continue her career. "In January I was having a meeting with my coach (Rick Lee) about my goals and he asked where I wanted to go with my cycling.

"I said I want to ride the track and do team pursuit but I wouldn't be able to do that in Australia.

"So I approached British Cycling about a possible return to the Senior Academy and it all moved very quickly and here I am fortunate to be working under the guidance of Senior Academy Coach Chris Newton.

"It was a difficult decision to leave behind many of my good friends," explained Jones. "But I decided if I was going to commit to cycling 100% it needed to be now or never.

"Living in Australia it was very expensive to race and I didn't have the same opportunities as I have in Britain. Mum and Dad are only a phone call or text away whatever the time is (even at 2am there, mum doesn't have silent on her phone)."

Having returned to Great Britain at the start of April, Jones is now fully focused on getting the best out of herself, but realises in returning to a high performance track program it will take time. "I think the biggest challenge for me will be getting back on the track and trying to find my track legs again.

"I have done some track riding in the last couple of years but mainly just club sessions at Chandler outdoor velodrome but haven't done any team pursuit on an indoor track."

The move back in to the British Cycling Academy sees Jones also join Team Breeze, combining both track and road commitments. Lining up at the Tour of the Reservoir just days after her return. "It was tough straight back into racing. I mainly struggled with the cold. I definitely had the most clothes on in the races. Day one was a shock as it was snowing and ice everywhere when we got to the race."

Next was the Tour of Yorkshire at the end of April, her first UCI race in nearly a year and just her second in the last 24 months. Undeterred despite racing against some of the best in the world. Jones finished 30th in the main bunch after a hard day of racing. "I really enjoyed the Tour of Yorkshire, It was a fast race with a mix or terrain, but I feel it suited me well, with some fast sections and some small climbs.

"There were a few points in the race I went into the red and thought this might be the end but I held on to the finish. It was good to be able to see where I am at with my fitness compared to some of the best road riders in the world before we move onto some track work."

Jones is looking forward to a busy period of racing over the next few months heading in to the track season. "I have a lot of racing coming up, we are staying around the UK for a while now with Lincoln GP coming up on the weekend in the National Series and then into the Tour Series crits which I love.

"It is an exciting year ahead, I am most looking forward to getting back on the track and trying to make the team for U23 European championships," Jones added of her upcoming goals. "I have never been to a European Track championships so if I could make the team I think it would be a really good opportunity.

"My main goals for the rest of this year is to keep seeing the improvements on the bike in racing and training."
 © 2016