Peloton Watch
  Molly Weaver hopes to continue development in 2016 following successful first professional season  
  December 1st 2015  
  Molly Weaver started her first season as a professional just 20 years old with Matrix Fitness on January 1.

Little did she know that less than half a year later she would have moved to the larger Team Liv-Plantur squad, finish second in the time trial at the British National Championships, ride the Giro Rosa and help Lizzie Armitstead to the world title. But that is how the season turned out and Weaver is already looking forward to 2016.

After regularly finishing in the top 30 in the sprint classics including eighth at the Cholet Pays de Loire Dames in France, Liv-Plantur came calling and Matrix Fitness were happy to allow her to make the switch to continue her development at the start of June.

A strong showing at the Aviva Women's Tour followed in mid June before a breakthrough second place finish in the time trial at the British National Championships, and fourth in the road race ahead of a number of more experienced professionals.

A crash may have ended her hopes of finishing the Giro Rosa on debut but a strong end of the season followed as she helped Lizzie Armitstead claim the rainbow jersey in the elite women's road race. Just as she had with Lucy Garner in 2012 in the junior women's event.

With the 2016 season fast approaching Weaver is back training with an eye on the sprint classics a she continues to develop in the professional peloton.

PelotonWatch: Turned professional at the start of the year with Matrix. What were you hoping to achieve in 2015?

Molly Weaver: To be honest I didn't really know what to expect. I had done a couple of smaller UCI races before, but none of the big ones, and definitely nothing close to a full professional season! I knew that on a personal level I had trained as hard as I could over the winter and was on good form, but until you've compared yourself against the other riders and started racing that could mean nothing! My first aim was just to finish a race.

PW: Posted some solid results in the early classics and semi classics in Belgium how did you find the racing?

MW: I loved the classics. Looking back they were by far my favourite races of the season, and the results I got there really meant a lot to me! I felt like all the hard work was paying off and the support I was getting was incredible. As well as that, the results ended up having a big impact on the rest of my season, and defined what happened later on.

PW: Finished eighth at Cholet Pays de Loire your first top 10 in a UCI race did this allow you to take confidence in to the rest of the season??

MW: The result at Cholet definitely gave me a confidence boost. The team really put their faith in me there and it's always good when you can repay that. I made a lot of mistakes in that race, as my DS at the time would confirm, but I was still really happy with the result. The mistakes are all a part of the learning process. It was my first time in a breakaway in a UCI race and I was completely isolated so it was a good experience for me all round!

PW: Top 40 at Ronde van Vlaanderen and La Flèche Wallonne important results to achieve in World Cups in your first professional season?

MW: Yeah these were really important results for me. Just racing the World Cups was an incredible experience, but races like the Ronde and Flèche Wallonne are just that bit more special. There are no other races like them on the calendar. It was a chance to race against the best riders in the world and see where you stand, so I was really happy to be able to hold my own in them.

PW: Moved to Liv-Plantur mid season. How did the transfer come about and what made you want to sign with the team for the second half of the year?

MW: I was actually at home taking a couple of weeks break after a hard block of racing, and I got a phone call from Stefan Wyman, my DS at Matrix, to say that he'd been contacted by Liv-Plantur and they wanted to discuss a mid-season transfer. Both teams have to agree for you to move in the middle of the season, and he was nothing but supportive and encouraging of this which was great. I loved racing for Matrix, but this was a big step up and I knew I wanted to go for it straightaway. It was a massive opportunity for me, and I knew it was a team I could really grow within and would help me to develop as a rider. Liv-Plantur was one of the teams that I aspired to ride for one day.

PW: Finished second in the time trial at the National Championships. What did it mean to stand on the podium?

MW: It meant a lot to stand on the podium, and is one of my highlights of the season for sure! I hadn't expected any kind of result in the time trial. It was my first stand alone time trial in years, and aside from a couple of very short prologues I hadn't had any practice at all. In the morning I even doubted why I had decided to do it. I had just finished racing the Women's Tour as well, so knew I would either be feeling great from that or completely awful! But once I was in the race something just clicked. But having ridden the course I knew it quite well, and it was a hilly one so suited me. After finishing and I was warming down there were riders crossing the line and I could hear each time on the loud speaker. That's the most stressful part...waiting to hear how fast people have gone! Once everyone was finished I'm not ashamed to say there was some jumping up and down, and maybe even a few tears.

PW: Then backed that up with fourth in the road race in a strong field happy with that result?

MW: This was a case of from the high to the low, as this was actually one of my worst moments of the season! Like with the TT, the course suited me well, and I stayed for the whole week in Lincoln (where the Nationals were held) and practiced on the course quite a lot. I was also pretty happy with where my form was, and in the race itself I felt good. I had a mechanical early on and had to have a bike change, but got back pretty quickly and didn't waste too much energy. Everything played out how I thought it would in the race, and coming into the final there was only a small group of riders left. It finished up a cobbled climb. It was just a case of picking the wrong side of the road. I got pinned against the barriers and there was nowhere to go. I ended up freewheeling across the line. Maybe the result would have been the same even if this hadn't happened, but any rider will tell you there's nothing worse than crossing the line and knowing you haven't gone 100%.

PW: Selected to ride the Giro Rosa. How did it feel to be lining up at the only women's grand tour having only turning professional at the start of the year?

MW: I would love to give the answer everyone always gives and go with 'it was so exciting', but actually it was terrifying! I never thought I would be racing the Giro in my first year, and obviously was honoured to be given the opportunity to race it, but that doesn't mean there wasn't an element of fear. It's the hardest stage race in women's cycling and was going to be double the length of any race I had done before.

PW: Happy with how you went at the Giro and what did you learn from the race?

MW: For me it unfortunately didn't go entirely to plan. I was there, as a domestique and so getting any kind of result on a personal level didn't matter. I wanted to be able to support our team leaders in the mountains as much as I could, and do a good job for them. In the first few days I felt good (aside from the fact it felt like we were being burnt alive in the crazy heat), and could do that work for my teammates. Then I had a series of three bad crashes in two days and that was the end of the race for me. In the last one somebody dropped a water bottle in the peloton and it went into my front wheel. We were going pretty fast and I went down hard. I carried on with the race for the next couple of days hoping to recover, but it's not the kind of race you can take it easy in! I was gutted to have to leave the race and not be there to the finish with my teammates, but sometimes that's just a part of racing and you have to pick yourself up and move onto the next one.

PW: Over 40 race days at UCI level in 2015 a big step up from previous years. What was the biggest challenge you faced with the increased level and number of race days?

MW: Yeah definitely a massive step up! The volume and intensity of racing is something you really can't prepare yourself for. From a British racing season with fewer, shorter and easier races, there's really no comparison. I already felt like I had done a whole season before the racing had even started back home! The main challenge for me was managing the fatigue. By the end of the season I was feeling pretty tired both physically and mentally, and moving mid-season meant my racing calendar changed a lot from what I had originally planned. We have a great coach with the team though, so worked to hold my form as best as possible through the last part of the season. This is something, which your body adapts too with time, so next season should be a lot easier in that respect!

PW: Finished your season at the World Championships, with Lizzie Armitstead taking gold. Second time you have been part of the winning team after Lucy Garner claimed the junior road race in 2012. What was the experience like?

MW: It was an incredible experience. To be selected to ride for your country at all is such an honour, but going into the race knowing that Lizzie could win made it even more special. A mechanical early on unfortunately ended my race, and meant I couldn't contribute much which is always gutting, but nothing mattered that day except Lizzie winning. The whole team was 100% committed to her, which was great.

PW: Looking back on 2015 how did it go and how much of a benefit do you think the experience from this year will be in 2016?

MW: Looking back now, and thinking about what I had hoped for this season, it went way beyond my expectations! It's easy to lose track of where you've come from, and stop being happy or satisfied with what you're doing. In many ways this is great. It means you're constantly challenging yourself and looking to become a better rider, but it's also important to be happy with what you've achieved and acknowledge this for yourself. I started off just hoping to finish some of the races, so to have got some good results over the season and now be riding for Liv-Plantur is more than I could ever have hoped for. A lot of times people just talk about the result on paper, but some of my best moments for the season came when I could do a good job for a teammate; even when this meant coming nowhere myself. I've got a lot to learn still, but the experience of this year will be a massive benefit going into 2016. I know more about myself as a rider, but also a lot more about the races and the peloton.

PW: You will remain with Liv-Plantur in 2016 was it an easy decision to re-sign?

MW: There was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to sign for next season if that was an option. I can see myself being with the team for a long time and hope that it's the place where I can develop further as a rider. I love the way the teams run, what it stands for, and the professional environment it provides for the riders. The team for next year is really well balanced as well and we all genuinely have a great relationship with each other, which is really important. I think 2016 will be a really good year.

PW: What are your goals for 2016?

MW: My main goal is to build on 2015 and develop as a rider. It's still very early days in terms of my cycling career so there's a lot more to learn! With a season under my belt now though, I want to put that experience to good use and come back stronger next year. The classics are a really big goal for me. I would love to get some good results here, and help the team to some big wins as well! Then there's the Giro. Being on good form for that to support my teammates is really important.
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