Rochelle Gilmore talks women’s cycling and Wiggle High5’s 2017 ambitions

Wiggle High5’s owner and manager Rochelle Gilmore talked about a plethora of different things as she previewed the women’s cycling season which is now just around the corner.

Former rider Gilmore now owns British team Wiggle High5, and whilst the Santos women’s Tour was on in Australia, Gilmore spoke about how women cycling can develop in the next couple of years, this season’s competition, and also the targets of her own team.

Last year was tricky for multiple teams, as they all had riders within their ranks which were targeting the Rio Olympics, and that certainly affected Wiggle in the opening months of the season, as they didn’t achieve the results many expected. But they picked up in the second-half of the season and now focus turns to this season.

Gilmore says the investment into women’s cycling is making it ‘interesting

The inaugural women’s WorldTour didn’t have the required impact in terms of coverage and exposure in its first year; but it lived up to its billing in terms of the racing, and this year it has expanded which is more good news for the sport. 

But the UCI have to get a grip on the broadcast side of things, as last year was disappointing as not many could watch the women in action.

But speaking about the rapid growth of the sport, Gilmore said: “Women’s cycling is still developing at a very fast rate, and I think that it will plateau in the next few years.

People, businesses, and investors have now realised that women’s cycling can take-off; last year was testament to that. There were some hugely entertaining races and now people want to make sure they get involved with it.

“The investment that is being put into women’s cycling teams is making our sport more interesting for television, because the racing is more interesting,” said Gilmore.

2017 season will reach another ‘level’ according to Gilmore

Last season produced some iconic moments, along with some iconic races. And this year the UCI have introduced the Ardennes week for the women, so there’s going to be even more big races for the women which is good for the sport.

“I’m really excited about the WorldTour races… I think that 2017 is going to see women’s cycling taken to another level with regards to the quality of racing,” said Gilmore.

There are some classy outfits in the women’s peloton, Canyon-SRAM, Cyclance, and Ale Cipollini have all put together strong teams – but on paper, Boels-Dolman once again look like the team to beat. With the likes of Megan Guarnier, Anna Van Der Breggen, Lizzie Deignan, and the World Champion Amalie Dideriksen all within that set-up it’s hard to look past the Dutch team.

But Gilmore feels the greater breadth of talent is something that will make the 2017 season interesting, saying: “Boels is the outstandingly strong team. However, because so many teams on the same level just below them, they won’t do it easily, even though they have all these big guns and, on paper, they have a super strong team.”

RideLondon and the Tour of Britain will be the focus for Wiggle High5 this season

Targeting most races throughout the season is really hard to do, unless you have the resources and most importantly the riders; and with Wiggle High5 in a sort of transition period after a host of riders leaving, and new ones coming in, the aim is the Tour of Britain and the RideLondon race in July.

But that doesn’t mean Wiggle can’t rule out the Giro D’Italia. One of the new recruits Claudia Lichtenberg looks to be set for the Giro, and Gilmore said: “If [Lichtenberg and Longo Borghini] are both in top form then they really do have a chance of winning the Giro d’Italia.”

“But I think the focus for us this year will be races like RideLondon and the Tour of Britain. Because we’re a British team, they’re very important for us,” continued Gilmore.

Gilmore is not setting any barriers; although the Giro, and women’s Tour is the priority, the Tour of Flanders and the Fleche Wallonne is another possibility for Wiggle High5.