Peloton Watch
  Jessica Roberts wins 2018 British Road National Title as first year elite  
  July 29th 2018  
  Jessica Roberts celebrates winning the 2018 British road national title. Photo: PA Images/Alamy  
  2018 has been a breakthrough step up to the elite ranks for Jessica Roberts. The 19-year-old started her first year out of juniors in January at the British Track National Championships, where she won a bronze medal in the points race in a strong field that included reigning world champion Elinor Barker.

Representing Wales at the Commonwealth Games in April on both the road and the track as well as a top 10 finish in the one day Dwars door de Westhoek continued her exciting season.

After what Roberts described as a disappointment from a near podium in the time trial, finishing fourth under 23 only served as more motivation for the road race where she was chasing under 23 gold. A smart move in the final 20 kilometres saw Roberts off the front with defending under 23 champion Mel Lowther. Over the final climb and heading for home with the peloton in pursuit, Roberts took her chance and went for it leaving Lowther behind. The last effort proved too much for the bunch as Roberts held on to take the biggest victory of her career to date. Taking not just the under 23 title she had hoped for but the elite crown as well.

It would be only two weeks before Roberts was again saluting across this line, this time in the British stipes with victory at the Stockton Grand Prix.

With a busy year in her legs many riders might be thinking of a short break, not Roberts who has her eyes on the Under 23 European Championships in August and the Track World Cup season starting in October.

Started 2018 strongly winning the team pursuit and a bronze medal in the points race at the Track National Championships did that give your confidence starting your first year out of juniors?

Yeah definitely, I really didn't expect to get a medal in any of the bunch races, so I was really pleased with that and it did give me some confidence moving forward to the next track events.

Raced on the track and road at the Commonwealth Games in April what was the experience like?

Absolutely amazing and I loved every second of it. There was such a nice atmosphere in the whole of the welsh team and there was a mix of people at their first games and some who had done 2-3 already, so I definitely learnt a lot from the older riders. Lewis Oliva and Ciara Horne really helped me throughout the whole games, they are two athletes I really look up to and I loved sharing my first games with them.

Had strong results at the Tour Series and a sixth place at the UCI Dwars door de Westhoek what were your goals heading in to the Road National Championships?

Going in to the TT I didn't really know how I would go as we hadn't really done much specific TT preparation. But for the road race my main goal was to get on the Under 23 podium.

You just missed the under 23 podium in the time trial and tweeted after you were disappointed. How did you refocus for the road race did that disappointment give you more motivation?

Yeah, I was a bit disappointed as I was quite close to getting on the podium, but it did motivate me more for the road race as I knew I was there in the mix in the u23 category.

You attacked late in the race and had a 30 second gap ahead of the final climb talk us through the final few kilometres for you?

I bridged across to Mel Lowther with about 20k to go, we were working well together, and I knew Mel was strong, so she was a good person to be away with. We got over the climb still with a gap, this was 10km from the finish and at this point I started to really commit and thought this is my chance. The bunch were closing in pretty quickly on the run in to the finish, we got to 3km to go and still had a bit of a gap, so I still had belief we could make it. Mel was starting to fade then so I just thought get to 1k to go and then just go and give it all I had left to the finish. I wouldn't have had anything left for the sprint if the bunch caught me, so I knew this was my only chance. That last kilometre felt like forever and my legs were screaming at me haha! I had one last look behind with 250 meters to go and saw the bunch approaching very fast, but I just held on by one and a half seconds and I really couldn't believe it.

Crossing the line solo to win the British national title at 19 in your first year out of juniors what did it mean to you?

It was one of the best feelings ever and I really couldn't believe it. Going in to the race my goal was to get on the U23 podium, never did I imagine I'd win the senior and the U23. It was a really special day which I'll never forget.

Two weeks later picked up your first win in the stipes at the Stockton Grand Prix how did it feel saluting your first victory as the National Champion?

It felt really good and special. We rode really well as a team throughout the whole race and I had a really good lead out for the finish so that made it even better.

The step up from under 19 to elite is different for everyone how have you found it so far? What have been the biggest challenges?

I've actually found it okay and have really enjoyed and thrived off racing with older riders. I'd say my biggest challenge has been adapting to the higher training load, I do a lot more hours now than I did as a junior and it just took me a little while to get used to that.

You raced a lot of under 19 UCI Nations Cup events of the past couple of years with wins and top 10 results and won EPZ Omloop van Borsele in 2016. How important have those events been for your development?

I feel these races have really helped my development as the racing abroad is much more aggressive than the UK which makes them really tough. In Holland the wind comes in to play a lot, so getting in to echelons really helps you progress as a young rider. I loved going away as a team for these races as a junior and was great to just get stuck in to racing against such a high quality field.

Been a big and busy year for you already but still a lot ahead what are your goals for the rest of 2018?

Yeah, still lots of racing to get stuck in to. One of my main goals of the year is the Under 23 European Track Championships, which are in a few weeks so I'm hoping to get selected to compete there. Then after that I'd like to be able to race at some of the World Cups over the winter, that would be an amazing experience.
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