Home > cycling, Sarah Interviews..., women's cycling > 2015 Road World Championships Q&As Part 1: Jolien D’hoore, Elena Cecchini, Vale Scandolara, Amanda Spratt & Jessie Walker

2015 Road World Championships Q&As Part 1: Jolien D’hoore, Elena Cecchini, Vale Scandolara, Amanda Spratt & Jessie Walker

Podcast interview logoOne of the things I love about the women’s cycling peloton is how fan-friendly and open the riders all are – so I’m super-grateful to Jolien D’hoore, Elena Cecchini, Valentina Scandola, Amanda Spratt and Jessie Walker for answering some questions about the 2015 Road World Championships road race course – and Part 2, over here, has Q&As from Elisa Longo Borghini, Ellen van Dijk and Kasia Niewiadoma.

Jolien D’hoore

Jolien D’hoore is a tough Flandrian sprint-and-Classics star, who’s had a wonderful year, winning her first Track World Cup omnium, and then two rounds of the Road World Cups, the Ronde van Drenthe and Crescent Vårgårda, with a second place at the Ronde van Vlaanderen behind her team-mate Elisa Longo Borghini. 

What’s it like in Richmond?

I’ve been here now two weeks, so I’ve had plenty of time to get used to the time difference and see the course. So far I’m really pleased with what I’ve seen. Everybody here in Richmond is excited for the Worlds and is very welcoming.

What’s the Road Race course like?

I’ve done a couple of laps today on the course. It’s a typical Belgian course so obviously I’m really happy with it. It all depends on race tactics, but it can be a hard race. Especially in the end with three climbs in the final 5km of each lap. It will be chaos in the final and the strongest will definitely win with a finish like this. If I could compare it with other races this year I would say it’s a combination between Sparkassen Giro, Vårgårda and Tour of Flanders.

Which riders do you think it suits?

It suits the more powerful classic type of sprinters. Lizzie Armitstead is the top favorite together with Anna Van Der Breggen and Lisa Brennauer. But there are so many riders who can win on this kind of course like Elisa Longo Borghini, Giorgia Bronzini, Emma Johansson, Lucinda Brand, Megan Guarnier, Shelley Olds

What’s it like racing with the Belgian national team rather than Wiggle Honda?

It’s different but it’s a nice feeling to represent my country and wear my national kit together with girls who speak the same language for once😉. Everything is really well organized by the Belgian cycling federation. We’re staying in a really fancy hotel, we have our own chefs… We’re having the perfect prep leading into the Worlds.

After your fantastic 2015, what are your goals in Richmond?

I just want to start with the same attitude which I already have the whole season: every bike race I start, I want to win. But there’s still a big difference in wanting it and doing it. I want to enjoy myself in the race and hope for the best result.

As a former Junior World Champion, what advice would you give the juniors tomorrow?

My advice would be: Don’t stress too much. It’s only a bike race. Just go out there, pedal hard and have fun!

What will you do when Worlds are over?

I will go on holiday with my boyfriend. So no bike but time for something different.

Follow Jolien on her twitter, and listen to her talk about that Track World Cup win in my interview with her from November


Elena Cecchini

Another rider who’s taken a real step up in 2015 is the Italian champion, Elena Cecchini, who shone in the Classics season, and whose great results included two podium places at the women’s Grand Tour, the Giro Rosa

What’s it like in Richmond?

I definitely love the USA, and Richmond is so cool! I’m expecting lot of people along the course during our race next Saturday. I’ve already experienced how the people look at us during last days’ trainings: everyone thinks we are sort of heroes and keep asking us pictures, selfies or autographs! I love American people🙂

Have you seen the Road Race course yet?  What’s it like? 

I like the course, it’s one of that loops that offers different scenarios for the final…. it could be a bunch sprint, a small group of riders going to the finish line, a solo action from an outsider…… will be interesting. I think the last 2k are really similar to Plouay WC, and doing that course 8 times can change a lot of things… for sure also the cobbles will make the race interesting.

Which riders do you think it suits? 

A lot of riders. But if I have to decide…I think the biggest favorite at the start will be Lizzie Armitstead.

How’s the atmosphere in the Italian team?  Is it strange when you come back after your year with Lotto-Soudal?

The atmosphere, as always, is really friendly, nice and light. We know each other really well, we are all different but we are a strong and close group. We laugh a lot, talk, discuss about the race every day. For me this year also in lot the “ambiance” was really comfortable and nice, I felt good all the year with my team mates and the staff. this is a really important aspect for a rider, so I was pretty lucky with that!

After your fantastic 2015, what are your goals in Richmond?

For the first year, I’m here just 2 days before a World Championship with high expectations, not only from my national team, but also from myself. I want to ride a strong race, I want to show myself that I made another step from last year. Every year the Worlds are a big occasion to show your level. This doesn’t always mean that you will achieve a good result, but I think that to be there with the best girls at the right moment can also mean a lot.

What will you do when Worlds are over?

For me the season will not be over yet…. I will spent October on the track, my second love. National Championships, then Europeans, than  maybe the first World Cup in Cali then……HOLIDAYS!!!!!

Follow Elena on twitter, facebook and instagram, and to find out more about her fantastic 2015, listen to or read my interview with her just after the Giro.


Valentina Scandolara

Another young Italian is fan favourite Vale Scandolara, who also podiumed in the Giro and has been scoring podiums while attacking in races everywhere. 

What’s Richmond like?

I love it! The roads where we train are up or down, very hilly and foresty. Quiet. I love everything about them: from the houses, to the gardens, to the wild animals we get to see (yesterday mum deer with two little Bambis and a squirrel <3). The town is really nice and not so busy. Americans are just amazing: they are so happy and excited to see us, and so friendly, helpful and nice, totally different from Italians in Florence, all complaining about the traffic hindrances we caused (ashamed Italian)…

Have you seen the Road Race course yet?   What’s it like? 

Yep we’ve seen it today. I like it a lot and I think it is very unpredictable and more open – at least on paper – than Worlds in the last years. Unless it rains: I think with the rain some parts of this lap will be pretty tricky. We will see on Saturday. It’s like no other courses I rode on this year. I think, breakaways apart, that it can suit fast people but not properly pure sprinters (I might be wrong of course ;-D)

What’s the hardest part?

Well easy to say the last 5 kms. Maybe the very last km will prove really decisive. Also the steep cobbled bit is taxing. And if it rains cobbles will be of course very slippery!!!

Which riders do you think it suits?

I think it is pretty open, it will depend a lot also from the teams’ tactics. I think the big names are pretty much always the same that won a lot this year (you know who they are, I don’t want to cut out someone) but it can be open to many possibilities.

What’s the atmosphere like in the Italian team?

We are having a lot of fun and I think we have a great and cohesive team. We do not have the strongest individuals and we are aware of that, but we’ve been in this position many times during the last years and everyone saw how it turned out in the end……😉 finger crossed!

Do you know your team role?  What are your goals (will you attack 100 times?)

We don’t know our team tactics yet, but I feel good and I hope I get to play my cards, which doesn’t mean to do 100 attacks only. I can also be very good in reduced bunches sprints, so I will try and race smart if I get the chance to do it.

What will you do when Worlds are over?

I will race Giro dell’Emilia with my National Team and then take a bit of rest. I think I will go somewhere on holiday but nothing huge as I am a bit over traveling around, and I know next year as well will be a taxing one for that. I am also looking forward to spend time home with the people I love.

Vale has one of the best twitter accounts of the race, sharing views, jokes and lots of insider information – you have to follow her!  Read her Q&As after she came second on Giro Rosa Stage 3, listen to my interview with her from January, and make sure you keep an eye on her Youtube, because she has the hands-down best ever rider videos I’ve ever seen. 


Amanda Spratt

Vale has been racing on Australian team ORICA-AIS, where she’s frequently mistaken for team-mate Amanda Spratt.  Spratty is a tough-as-nails climbing domestique who can escape and win for herself.

What’s Richmond been like for you? 

So far I’ve really enjoyed my time in Richmond – we have been here for about 1.5 weeks now. I’ve loved how friendly and excited all the locals have been about the races and it’s been great to spend a little bit of time in the town to look around. Aside from the racing, the highlight has been visiting the Westover Elementary School.  The students there have spent the last two weeks studying Australia and Orica-AIS so we got a rockstar welcome and then had a great chat with some of the kids.

How was the Team Time Trial?

The TTT was a hard day! From a team perspective we improved a lot from our first TTT together in Sweden – even though the final result may not have looked any better on paper, we all finished feeling much happier and more satisfied than how we had felt after Sweden. We didn’t lose so much time in the first 25kms but just really lacked the firepower in the last part with headwind so it’s good to know where we can improve looking forwards.

Have you seen the Road Race course yet?   What’s it like? 

Today was the first day I got to see the whole road race circuit. It is very much like a Classics course – the first 10kms is not so hard but it’s constantly changing directions – from there the road goes up and you enter the first cobbled hill and then it is one obstacle after the other until the finish straight. The cobbled climbs are not long but they are definitely real Belgian cobbles so they will really tire the body out after so many repetitions. I definitely like the course!

Which riders do you think it suits?

It definitely suits that classics-type rider. It’s also going to be so important to save energy where you can because by the final laps it’s just going to be a real race of attrition I think. The hills are hard but not so long so a rider who is able to repetitively produce that high power is going to be good on this course.

How’s the atmosphere in the team after Katrin Garfoot’s fantastic ITT?

There is a really good atmosphere in the team after Kat’s great ITT performance. We were all so excited watching it and so happy for her when she had such a great result. I know hard she works and I’ve seen how strong she is (and experienced it rather frequently recently being behind her in the TTT) so it’s great to see her take that next step and to only be 9 seconds off the world title is amazing.

What will you do when Worlds are over?

After Worlds I will head back to Europe for 5 days and then it’s back to Australia. This year I’m holiday-ing in Tropical North Queensland so I’m pretty excited to have a bike-free holiday by the beach and in the rainforest! Then it will be a little more downtime before starting the preparations for a big 2016🙂

Follow Spratty on her twitter, she’s always good value!


Jessie Walker

Young British rider Jessie Walker is riding her first elite World Championships, after an amazing year when she was the top British finisher in the Giro Rosa Grand Tour with Servetto Footon.

How are you feeling?

This will be my 2nd World Champs as I went as a 2nd year junior. It was an incredible experience with Lucy Garner winning gold. So hopefully we’ll have the same again for Lizzie!!

What’s it like out in Richmond?

We’ve done a few rides around the area and everywhere we go we get such a lovely greeting. Then near the course everyone is in such high spirits cheering us on and wanting photos. The Americans are definitely giving us a warm welcome. This is my first time in America and my first impressions have been very positive.

Have you had a look at the course?  Does it remind you of any of the other races?

We’ve been up the cobbled climbs but not the full lap as its too busy with traffic. On Thursday the course opens for 2 hours so it will be the perfect opportunity to ride round as a team and discuss tactics. I had heard that the course was suited to sprinters with it being mainly flat with a few short sharp climbs but it’s a lot tougher than people have been making out. The only race I can think to relate this to would be Lincoln GP with the cobbled climb. But it’s for sure going to make an exciting race.

What are your goals for Saturday?

With Lizzie Armitstead being in the team as one of the favourites for the race we will be 100% committed to her, helping her in any way we can.

What will you be doing next?

After this I have a local hill climb up Monsal. I’ve done it the last 3 years and it’s a fantastic atmosphere so I didn’t want to miss it. Then my season is over and I’ll have a well deserved rest.

Find out more about Jessie on her website and read her Q&A after that first Giro,  Follow her adventures on her twitter, and give a big thank you on her behalf (and maybe a donation too!) to the Dave Rayner Fund for supporting her.


Want more Worlds?  Check out all my video collections, podcasting and suggestions of who to follow under my Richmond 2015 tag – and if you need any help following the World Championships road race, my guide is here.  As always, I’m funded to do all this by my wonderful Patreon supporters – thank you all so much!

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