Peloton Watch
  Maggie Coles-Lyster takes confidence from junior track world title to Road World Championships  
  September 18th 2017  
  Maggie Coles-Lyster after winning points race world title. Photo: VeloResults  
  With a rainbow jersey on her shoulders and a gold medal around her neck from the track Maggie Coles-Lyster heads to the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen this week hoping to finish her time as a junior with second to world title.

Coles-Lyster created history at the UCI Junior Track World Championships in August, when she won the points race to become the first Canadian woman to win a junior world title on the track. A day earlier she had claimed silver in the omnium improving on bronze from a year earlier and is one of just four women to win medals in the omnium in both their years under 19.

The 18-year-old Canadian had little time to rest or celebrate as she immediately turned her attention to preparing for Road Worlds. Heading to France and the Tour de l'Ardeche with Lares-Waowdeals. Known as one of the most challenging races on the calendar Coles-Lyster believes suffering over the climbs has prepared her well for this weeks test in Norway.

After finishing 14th in Qatar in 2016, Coles-Lyster has spent a number of months racing in Europe this year with the Lares-Waowdeals Development Team. Something she believes along with the harder course and already having a rainbow jersey to have name will benefit her this year. Her goal for the race? "A podium for sure." Though in what we will be fifth World Championship appearance in two years she is certain to leave it all on the road to claim gold.

Beyond this week Coles-Lyster is looking forward to her first elite track season with hopes of representing Canada again at World Cups, with Canada hosting a round in Milton in December. While she also has her eye on the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year.

Competition at Junior Worlds started with the team pursuit where you smashed the Canadian Record on route to finishing fifth did that give you some confidence with where your form was at ahead of the individual events?

Going into the team pursuit this year, we were already ahead of where we were last year as four out of us five girls had competed at the Junior World Championships last year in Aigle, Switzerland. After a quality training camp, and some great training sessions in Montichiari I knew we were definitely on track for a new Canadian Record.

And the best part of it all was that I had never felt as good in a team pursuit as I felt on race day, despite our fifth place finish! The team pursuit showed me that other countries were riding stronger than ever, with World Records being smashed, so therefore my confidence heading into the individual events was more derived by a flawless training program heading into Worlds and a great mental place!

Bronze last year in the omnium behind Elisa Balsamo and Michaela Drummond who both stepped up to elite ranks meant you headed in a one of the favourites who did you see as your biggest competition?

As per usual, before Worlds I became an avid stalker of my competition, so knew that the Italian rider, Letizia Paternoster, would definitely be my biggest competition, after a killer performance at European Championships a few weeks earlier. I also knew that New Zealand, the Netherlands and France have strong programs, so kept an eye on them as well. It was pretty surreal heading in as one of the favourites, and knowing that other countries knew I was strong and were watching me. Proof of that was shown in the first scratch race where Letizia immediately became my shadow and vice versa!

Strong first three events in the omnium with fourth in the scratch, a win in the tempo and fifth in the elimination to start the points races eight points off gold what was your plan for the race?

The first step to going into that points race was to get my head back in the game. I had very high expectations for myself and had not foreseen going into the points race eight points back from gold. Once I had convinced myself a win was definitely within grasp, a game plan was put in place. All I had to do was win a couple of sprints and that gap would of been a very manageable size, then ideally, jump the leader and take a lap with some girls who were farther down in the results.

Recovering enough to win the last sprint, which was double points, was also a focus, should it come down to it. Lastly, I needed to keep an eye on the race for bronze going on behind me, as taking one lap was all that needed to happen for them to bump me out of silver.

Picked up points across a number of sprints to take silver. The battle behind you was close with bronze and fourth just a couple of points behind how did the race play out for you?

Lining up for the points race, I was pretty sore from my crash a few hours earlier in the tempo and I was flat out exhausted (as was everyone else). In typical Maggie fashion, I tried to take points in the early sprints, but Letizia kept racking them up and opening up the lead. I kept one eye on the results board the whole time, so watched the race for bronze behind me creep closer.

Around halfway through the race my focus switched slightly to go on the defensive to protect my silver by watching France and the Netherlands, and if I could still pull off the win, then life would be perfect! However, I was so spent and just finishing the race and holding onto silver took every last bit of mental and physical strength, but I did it, and upsetting not to get the omnium gold I had dreamed of, but I was one step higher than last year and still had two more days of racing to go.

Your first time racing the new omnium format how did you find? Think it suits you better?

I really wished I would've gotten the chance to race the new omnium format at least once before Worlds because holy cow, five bunch races (qualifiers + 4 omnium races) in one day is the most exhausting experience I have ever encountered! It definitely was a better fit for me, though, as last year, the individual pursuit and time trial were my two weakest events. Although I really liked the challenge of training to be good at both timed events and bunch races, this new format has complemented the work and races I have been doing on the road and suits the way I think and race better.

The next day was the points race where you started strongly winning the first three sprints, taking a lap and dominating to claim gold. How did it feel standing on the podium pulling on the rainbow jersey?

It was a dream come true! I knew I could do it, and was even that much more driven to claim the rainbow stripes after my silver in the omnium, but it still felt so surreal pulling on the jersey and calling myself a World Champion! And no better way to win than with a super tough, nerve racking race like that race was.

For my own mental game, I knew I had to take points early on, but it was a gamble as the other strong countries such as Italy and the Netherlands were sitting in, recovering for the first bit, waiting to take their lap. Taking that lap was one of the toughest things I have ever had to do on a bike (almost saw a reappearance of my lunch...), and the sense of relief when I finally caught the pack and looked up to the board and saw my name in first, I knew I had it in the bag. But then just to throw in a plot twist, I just had to go and crash with five laps to go... During the neutral after another crash! I finished the race on my teammates bike that I had never ridden before, but at that point it was just a matter of crossing the line. The rest of the day consisted of face cramps from smiling so much! :)

With the team pursuit, omnium, points race and Madison was a busy week for you how did you find the workload?

So at Junior Track Nationals I have always raced every event, sprint and endurance. I went in thinking that the four events I had at worlds couldn't top the exhaustion of doing everything, but the different level and intensity, not to mention the heat of Italy and the track was all extremely taxing. Along with the two crashes, where both times I landed on my knees, by the end of the Madison, I was completely spent.

However, going into each event I had ways of keeping my energy high (cough, cough espresso) and I believe that with the full road season I had with quite a few stage races and BC Superweek, my body was used to having to perform over and over, and that benefit definitely showed on the track.

Was back to the road after Junior Track Worlds and you raced the Tour de l'Ardeche one of the hardest races on the calendar how did you find it?

Before I left for the Tour de l'Ardeche, people had warned me that it was hard, but I had never in my wildest dreams imagined how hard it could actually be. Some stages started with 15-25km climbs! As well as they were some of the longest races that I have ever done! I did 5 out of the 7 stages so as not to overdo it with less than two weeks to go before Worlds, but it made for an amazing block of training and the confidence it gave me after all of that climbing is something I could never of gotten from training. Oh, and not to mention how breathtakingly beautiful that region of France is! For my first big tour, although it was mostly used as World's prep, I had a blast, suffered, and can't wait until the next one!

You have also spent a number of months throughout the year racing in Europe with Lares-Waowdeals Development Team including riding the Under 19 Nations Cup Healthy Ageing Tour. How important do you think that experience will be for Road Worlds and also looking ahead to 2018 and beyond?

I believe that this first big year of racing and training in Europe has been crucial to my development and beyond a doubt has been a huge asset in preparing me for Worlds. In Canada, I have never experienced junior women's racing to the level of aggressiveness, speed and animation as I have encountered over here. Knowing what to expect mentally and physically being able to hold position and animate a race in a pack of 80+ riders are essential skills that I'm so lucky to be learning at a young age. It will definitely make the leap from junior into elite women that much easier.

Finished 14th at Worlds in 2016 a very different course this year what are your goals for Bergen?

A podium for sure. Although the course is hilly, I have done a solid block of training preparing for climbing and I still have a lot of speed and power coming off of the track, so I believe that this course will suit me very well. Added bonus of the European race experience and already having one Rainbow Jersey in the bag, my confidence is high going into Bergen and I'm ready to fight and give my all to get another gold medal!

Looking ahead to 2018 you step up to the elite ranks do you plan on continuing to combine the track and road? What do you think the biggest challenge of going from junior to elite will be?

Track and road complemented each other so well this year, despite Worlds being weeks apart, that I definitely plan to continue to combine them next year. I believe they both offer valuable skill sets that every cyclist could use, and when looking at top women racers like Kirsten Wild and Marianne Vos, for example, who've excelled at both, it goes to show it definitely can be done.

I have already done many elite women's races, at least at the local and national level, so I know what expect and where I will fit in to an extent, but the biggest challenge I think I will face will be starting at the bottom again. It will definitely take time and training at an international level to become strong enough and learn how to work my way up to the top, but I'm excited and ready to tackle this next challenge!

Before then your first elite track season what are your goals there? Commonwealth Games in April next year is that something you have your eye on?

My goals are to get as much race experience as possible. Besides Nationals and Worlds, I have never really done many big track races mostly because they are few and far between. If there are any opportunities to race World Cups or 4/6 Day Track Races or even the Commonwealth Games, I will definitely jump at the opportunity because the fastest way for me to learn and grow as a young cyclist will be lining up next to top elite racers so I can rise to the occasion and show them what I got!
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