By Christine Vardaros
Making her way to the podium in half the races she has entered this season, British Telenet-Fidea rider Nikki Harris has taken her racing game up a sizeable notch. She went from one podium finish last year to a whopping nine this year. Her podium placings include powerhouse events such as GVA Trofee’s Koppenbergcross, GVA Baal, GVA Essen, Superprestige Asper-Gavere, and Ruddervoorde. While she may be thrilled by her recent success, she sees it more as her master plan put into action.
“Sure I am a bit surprised,” she said. “But at the same time I would be disappointed if I hadn’t had any podiums, because this summer I trained so hard. I also spent a lot of time looking into what I had to do to make that step up to the riders that are always fighting for a podium place.
“Obviously you get the girls who always land on the podium, such as Marianne Vos, Katie Compton, Katerina Nash, Sanne van Paassen and Daphny van den Brand. But then you have six or seven girls who can also get up there on a good day. Every time I’m out there fighting for a podium I’m kind of surprised because it’s something new to me. But every race I gain more confidence. It’s such a nice feeling to be on the podium and really makes all the hard work I put in worth it.”
As for the actual work done to make her way onto the podium, Harris explained, “I’ve changed quite a few things actually. I really had a much easier summer in terms of racing, but I trained a lot more. I also spent more time on the mountain bike, which really helped my skills. In addition, I focused on every aspect of my cycling, because if you can become a percentage better in everything then it really can make a big difference overall.”
She also credits her new team for providing her with the right environment to flourish. “I absolutely love the Telenet-Fidea team. It’s fantastic that they have a specific women’s team this year and I think it shows in how many podiums we are getting as a team. We have some of the best equipment, mechanics, and support around us and it’s really nice to share a camper with a great group of girls. We are always there to support each other at the start and end of a race. I think we really bring each other on.” She has a three-year contract with them.
Further lowering her stress during the season is her choice to be Belgium-based along with her boyfriend Matt Brammeier, the Irish professional road and time trial champion for Omega Pharma-Quick Step Team.
While she may be pleased with her season, she admits her work is far from done. “My season has gone better than I could of ever hoped for, but I really feel there is much more to come. My confidence is really growing and I’m starting to believe in myself again. Now I find myself eager to score better results and more podiums. I want to win something so I continue to look at what I need to do or where I can improve to get myself that win. As for other specific goals, I want to try and keep up there in the GVA series; I’m currently second. The world championships is of course another big goal for me. I really like the track in Koksijde, and I’m looking forward to the whole atmosphere there in January.” Earlier in the season, Harris placed seventh at the World Cup held on the same course.