Among the UK's young track stars bidding to one day take the spotlight from the likes of Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald is Handsling-mounted Katie-Ann Calton. In her late teens, Katie-Ann has to balance the pursuit of her cycling dreams with the pressure of school exams. Here she looks back on the highs and lows of 2022 and ahead to a 2023 year that kicks off with UK National Track Championships and will feature her first races in Europe.
Q: How would you sum up 2022 in terms of your progress as a cyclist?
A: 2022 has been a very different year compared to previous seasons. As a first year junior it was about adapting to longer more difficult races and finding ways to continue and progress as a track rider as there are less opportunities than at youth to ride track. Overall, I would say that in 2022 I’ve learnt loads and I feel set up nicely for a great season in 2023.
Q: What were the highs and lows of the year for you?
A: A high would have to be Junior Track Nationals. I had a great time and showed myself how much I had developed as a rider and was always in contention for a podium. About half way through the year I had a low point when my dog I grew up with since I was a child passed away. It was hard adjusting to not having that lively and loving presence around, but I found going out on rides helped me clear my head. I was able to process my grief and prepare for Track Nationals, which was only a couple of weeks away.
Q: You changed teams this year- what can you tell us about your new team and how will the move help you improve?
A: For the 2023 season I've moved to JRC Interflon. It is a junior team with plenty of opportunities to race domestically in the UK and abroad in Europe. I’m very excited to compete in my first European races, with my first race being Gent-Wevelgem - a Belgium classic in March. I’m looking forward to getting back into road racing after a small step back in 2022.
Q: You had GCSE exams this year. What was it like to balance studies and exams with training and the race calendar?
A: The exams just happened to be during the road nationals. I found I had to step back slightly from road cycling, but that allowed me to get the grades I wanted. I found taking a small break from the bigger races allowed me to get back in touch with the grass roots of the sport down at the Herne Hill Velodrome.
Q: What are your cycling goals for 2023?
A: In 2023 I am hoping to put all the learning and progress I have made In 2022 into action. My main goal is Junior Track Nationals. I’m really looking forward to some tough competition and a shot at a national champs jersey.
Q: Who are your cyclist role models and what inspiration do you get from them?
A: My role models would have to be Lotte Kopecky and Katie Archibald. They both have iconic riding styles. Watching them compete is captivating, not just on the track, but also on the road. Watching Kopecky win Tour of Flanders and Strade Bianche was really inspiring to me as she is the kind of rider I aspire to one day be like.
Q: Tell us about your bikes- what do you ride and what do you like about them?
A: For the road I ride a Handsling A1R0evo in Pearlescent Champagne colour with Ultegra Di2 12-speed groupset. I really love my bike. It's stiff so you can get a lot of power through in a sprint, but also really agile to get round corners and down descents effortlessly. On track I ride a Handsling TR3evo in custom red and black. I've had this bike for a few years now and I really enjoy riding it as its different to the traditional Dolan or Cervelo. It's aero, stylish, stiff, super smooth and fast.