The Matrix Fitness Grand Prix Series will enter its sixth season in 2016, running alongside the well-established Pearl Izumi Tour Series on spectator friendly town and city centre circuits and this year has grown to six rounds with 11 teams.
The series attracts a high calibre of rider, including previously Olympic Champions Joanna Rowsell and Dani King and double Junior World Champion Lucy Garner. Podium Ambition presented by Club La Santa have been champions for the past two editions with Paralympic Champion Dame Sarah Storey and World Champion Katie Archibald in their squad. Team Ford EcoBoost has last year’s individual champion Nikki Juniper and Commonwealth Games medallist Charline Joiner. This year Team Velo Schils Interbike are pitting themselves against some of the best teams in the UK.
The newly formed team consists of Nicola Soden, Sandra Mackay, Iona Sewell, Katherine Kimber, Caroline Guest, Natalie Hodson and Louise Collins and they are keen to both race and play hard.
Katherine Kimber said “As a team we are all about supporting each other, developing each other, enjoying our racing, trying new things, working for each other, and giving and receiving confidence. We will be entering a team into the Tour Series, experiencing some racing in Belgium and generally progressing positively throughout the season. We will be targeting 2/3/4 road races, some national road races, and the National Crit Champs.”
She goes on to say “Patrick Schils and his family are as crazy as we are, so it is a perfect fit – they don’t take things too seriously AND drink Cherry beer for recovery…. What more could you want from a sponsor?! Patrick is an extremely strong and experienced rider with a wealth of knowledge he can offer to the team. The team also enjoy joining in on their weekly shop rides, anyone can come along”. You can find details here.
Nicola says “I love racing with these girls – everyone is fun and friendly with no egos and up for having a good time in and out of racing”.
Back in 1948 Jef Schils was the founder of Schils frames and bikes, and a Belgian National Champion! The Director and Owner of Velo Schils Interbike, Patrick Schils, followed in his father’s footsteps as a Belgian Professional Rider and continued making the Schils bikes here in the UK.
I spoke to Patrick Schils and asked:
Why did you decide to sponsor a women’s team in 2016?
The women’s cycling scene is ever growing and we saw this as a fantastic opportunity to get even more ladies into it and also promote ourselves.
What are the targets for the team in 2016?
For them to enjoy and improve themselves, gaining valuable experience racing throughout the year, in the UK and Europe.
Our main goals for this year are:
The Tour Series
Racing in Belgium and Europe
Long term what are your hopes for the team?
We hope that the team will grow and succeed in races and have great experience of racing in different countries.
Sum up the team in three words?
Dedicated, Funny & Charming.
Who are the main sponsors for the team?
Doltcini cycle clothing
Luck Custom Cycling Shoes
Do you have a men’s team? Cycling club? Shop events/rides?
Yes, we have had a Velo Schils cycle team for racing and a club since 1997 when the retail shop first started. Back then it was only a handful of riders and now we have over 100 current members. Some of them race and some enjoy leisure, charity rides and sportives. We have club runs every weekend starting from the Velo Schils InterBike shop at 9.30am on Saturdays and Sundays and have also started a Tuesday evening ride now the better weather has started. The team also enjoy our Sportive in January and Majorca Training Camp in February, along with our race The Jef Schils Memorial in September and a few races and sportives in Belgium throughout the year.
Why do you think more shops are sponsoring teams generally?
I think it’s a great collaboration to have a team connected to a shop. It’s good advertisement for bikes, clothing and products and great to add a new dimension to a shop.
Do you think the traditional club structure is disappearing with more sponsored teams and shop rides? How will this impact on the sport?
I think that cycling within the UK over the past couple of years has grown massively and still is. From new riders wanting to get fit, cycle with friends and family or start racing or doing charity rides or sportives. It’s fantastic to see just how many people are getting the cycling bug and we will embrace it. Our club structure has pretty much stayed the same over the past few years, but just on a larger scale Schils are known for their custom cycles.
Why should a rider consider a custom build?
We have been building custom built Schils bikes since 1948 with Jef Schils who was Belgian Professional National Champion. As you can imagine his passion for cycling transpired into his bikes and now it has carried on throughout the Schils Family. Customers appreciate a personal service where you can come enjoy a coffee while choosing everything for your bike and the end result is a bike that fits you comfortably, is unique to you, you can choose your own colours and design of frame and have a great after service.
Is it true you can get your helmet hair done while having your bike serviced at Velo Schils?
Ha ha, yes the rumours are true. The trick is to be different, so yes you can have your hair cut and coloured at Velo Schils Interbike. Schils Hairdressing is based within the shop and it’s great to add something different and a new dimension to the shop. www.schilshairdressing.com
You can find the shop here:
Unit 5, 85 London Road
You can follow the team here:
Matrix Grand Prix Series Dates
Round One – Tuesday 17 May – Motherwell
Round Two – Thursday 26 May – Redditch
Round Three – Thursday 2 June – Stoke-on-Trent
Round Four – Monday 6 June – Stevenage
Round Five – Tuesday 7 June – Croydon
Round Six – Thursday 9 June – Portsmouth
Matrix Fitness Grand Prix Series Teams
Aprire HSS Hire
Drops Racing Team
Boot Out Breast Cancer Cycling Club
Podium Ambition p/b Club La Santa
Team Footon Velosport
Team Ford EcoBoost
Team Jadan Weldtite
Velo Schils Interbike