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Introducing: Anna Shackley

Anna Shackley (SD Worx)
Anna Shackley (SD Worx) (Image credit: Getty Images)

Anna Shackley was a surprise announcement to Great Britain’s women’s road team selection alongside Lizzie Deignan for the Tokyo Olympic Games. A neo-pro at SD Worx, Shackley will compete in the road race on July 25 and the time trial on July 28 held at the Fuji International Speedway.

“I still can't really believe it. I’m mostly just very excited for the opportunity and experience," Shackley said.

The 20-year-old is from Milngavie, north of Glasgow in Scotland, and is a graduate of British Cycling’s Performance Pathway Academy that is focussed on developing the nation’s top talents. 

British Cycling Performance Director Stephen Park stated that academy graduates including "Anna Shackley have seized every opportunity this additional year has given them and it will be testament to the work of our pathway programme to see them on the start line in Tokyo." 

Cyclingnews caught up with Shackley to find out more about her start in professional cycling, embarking on a career in the Women’s WorldTour, and her goals for the future.

Cyclingnews: Can you describe where you’re from and your home city?

Anna Shackley: I’m from a small town north of Glasgow in Scotland and it’s very hilly where I live back home. I moved to Manchester last year as part of the British Cycling programme, and I’ve been living here, but I like going home to my town in Milngavie, Scotland.

CN: Have you finished school?

AS: Yes,  but, I want to go to university at some point because I applied, and got in, but then decided to focus on cycling. I definitely want to go back for a degree in chemistry at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. I know that in cycling you retire early, relatively, and it’s good to have a back up.

CN: Did you race in the former Tour of Scotland?

AS: Yes, it was really good. On the second day, it passed on all my home roads, which was really nice. It was also just my first UCI race. It was good fun.

CN: Tell us about cycling in Scotland?

AS: It’s great and we have very nice roads, good views. It’s also very hilly were I am,  actually, it’s quite hilly in most places in Scotland. I definitely consider myself a climber and I enjoy the hills. 

CN: This is your first contract with a big team, at SD Worx, how did the negotiations for 2021 begin?

AS: It happened very suddenly. I was training over lockdown, in 2020, and my coach sent some of my training data to Danny Stam, the team manager. He was in contact, saying that he was interested in my joining the team, and it all happened from there. It was all surreal because I didn’t expect any of that to happen.

In July, last year, I had signed my contract for 2021. It was all a surprise because  Danny hadn’t seen me race at all, there were no races, so it was all done through my power data.

CN: What do you think stood out about your power data?

AS: My watts per kilo were quite good and that’s because I’m quite small.

CN: What do you think Danny Stam means when he says you have a 'unique driving force'?

AS: I don’t know! I am a very determined person. I like to train quite hard and I actually get told off [by coaches] for training hard. I like riding hard and going out and smashing it around the hills. My coach is Emma Trott.

CN: How long have you worked with Emma Trott?

AS: I’ve been working with her for over a year and I like her training because it’s worked well for me, so far, and we get along really well. It’s easy to pick up the phone and talk to her. She’s brutally honest, as well, which is what I need in a coach.

CN: How long have you been racing in Scotland?

AS: I started racing when I was six and I did all the Scottish and British races as a youth rider. After that, my first international race was as a second-year junior, at about 17 years old.

I’ve always done track, since I was 10, and found that it helped a lot with my road riding. When I got on the British programme, it was track and road, and so we had to do team pursuits and track endurance stuff, and road. 

I was always much better at road than track, so last year, we did it all through out the winter until March, but I’m now just focussed on the road. Although, sometimes I drop into the bunch sessions to change up my training a bit. Mostly, though, I only train on the road.

CN: Tell us about the start of your first season with SD Worx?

AS: I was a bit disappointed at the start because I wasn’t able to make it to the first camp. COVID-19 restrictions stopped all UK passengers from travelling to Europe. It was frustrating but it was necessary and public heath was the priority.

CN: What is your role at SD Worx?

AS: I’m so new and it’s my first year as a pro, so I’m gaining experience from all the other riders. We have so many talented riders on the team and so I want to support them and learn from them. It’s exciting and I just love gaining all the experience, but it’s a lot of diving into the deep end.

CN: There are a number of young riders at SD Worx. Can you tell us about the development aspect of the team?

AS: It’s nice to have so many young riders and it’s not as intimidating. I’m not the only young one. They’re really nice. Even the older riders are lovely, and they all speak perfect English, which is great, because I don’t speak a word of Dutch.

CN: Where do you see your future in pro cycling?

AS: I want to win races. I wouldn’t want to classify myself as just a climber, but that’s what I’m good at, and so I would want to do well in the hilly Classics and the Giro. We have so much experience on our team in these kinds of races, and so, I can only hope to learn from them and hope to be as good. I would also love to go to the Olympic Games.

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.