Since its inception in 2019, the ŠKODA Driver's Seat Initiative (DSI) Cycling Academy has provided a pathway for female cyclists, aged between 17 to 22, to the elite level of the sport under the leadership of Sarah Storey (Storey Racing), Britain’s most successful Paralympian. Now, it has produced a crop of four new graduates - Morgan Newberry, Rebecca Richards, Megan Dickerson and Lucy Ellmore, who have each signed to a cycling team, advancing their fledgling careers.
“I’m delighted to see how much progress each of the Academy riders have made during their time with the ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy, they have all made big steps forward in their cycling careers,” Storey said.
“To have worked with such passionate individuals who are committed to improving their performance both on and off the bike has been a real privilege and I wish them all the best for their next step. I will be following their progress.”
Accepted into the academy after a rigorous day of testing among 17 other shortlisted applicants, Newberry, Richards, Dickerson and Ellmore experienced the life of a professional cyclist, learning about performance, nutrition and the media, as well as enjoying ride experiences at the Women’s Tour, Tour of Britain and Tour Series.
For Newberry, these studies complemented a master’s degree in Physiology and Nutrition at Loughborough University. On the bike as a C5 para-cyclist, she competes in both able-bodied and para-cycling races, and through the academy programme her bike has received the same modifications as her Storey to ride more efficiently.
“I’ve been on a three-year journey with the Academy,” she said. “Thanks to Dame Sarah and ŠKODA I’ve progressed from a novice club rider to joining a major cycling team.”
Now, the 22-year-old Leicester native will join her mentor at Storey Racing and participate in the National Road Series while aiming to take part in the Para World Cup road race and time trial next year.
“The Paris 2024 Paralympics are definitely on my radar,” Newberry added, “and I’m keen to push myself over the next few years. What better mentor to have than Team GB’s greatest ever Paralympian?”
Richards, a 23-year-old from Newark, too will join Storey Racing to compete in the National Road Race, Circuit and Time Trials Series next year. Recalling her time at the academy, Richards pinpointed the ride experiences as transformative and “all tied together with a real sense of achievement. Riding a 140-mile stage of the Tour de France with the InternationElles, a day ahead of the men’s pro peloton, will take some beating.”
Dickerson and Ellmore, meanwhile, have chosen to combine their cycling with other careers. Dickerson will join FTP Racing to target national time trial and road races next season, pursuing these goals alongside a full-time job at a digital social media agency.
“I’m thrilled to be stepping up to the next level to joining FTP Racing, a team of strong female riders,” the 25-year-old from Bristol said. “All of the Academy riders are now close friends and I’m excited to compete against them in the very near future.”
Similarly, Ellmore, who is just 18, will be "juggling work at the local police treatment centre with riding with the Pro-Noctis team,” and taking a year out from her studies to focus on cycling. Her objectives seem to lie in the criterium races where “the big crowds create an amazing atmosphere and a real buzz.”
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