Nikki Harris has signed a one-year deal with Boels Dolmans for 2016 as she aims to ride on the road and combine her cyclo-cross aspirations next season.
Harris’ main aim for the coming year is to ride the Olympic Games road race for Great Britain, where she hopes to race alongside current world champion and future trade teammate, Lizzie Armistead. The move came after an initial discussion at the British national road championships earlier this season with Harris expressing her interest in combining road and cyclo-cross. She currently rides for Belgian team Telenet-Fidea but has agreed with the team to terminate her contract at the end of this year – instead of when the cross season finishes in March – so that she can move to Boels Dolmans in January.
“To be honest it’s been something that I’ve been looking to do for some time, wanting to combine cross and road but it’s always been difficult to find a team that can provide everything you need for both disciplines,” she told Cyclingnews from her base in Belgium.
“I’d been in contact with Boels since the nationals and it’s all come about in the last couple of weeks. It all fits together, especially as I have ambitions to get to Rio next year and ride more on the road.”
The move to a new team and race programme will see Harris combine her passion for cyclo-cross with her new targets on the road. Boels will allow her to race cross for the coming months and then help her build up a road race programme ahead of the Olympics. Harris stressed that the move would not see her turn her back on cyclo-cross.
“I’m definitely not giving that up. Boels are allowing me to combine my road and cross races and have opportunities at both disciplines. They’ll provide me with all the equipment I need. It’s basically a dream scenario.
“I’ll finish the cross season and then take a break before trying to find a balance in order to bring the best out of both. I want do to do this for Rio but for the last couple of years I’ve also wanted to race the Classics. With my current team, it’s been the perfect team for the cross but they’ve not been able to give that opportunity for the road. This move will compliment my road and cross seasons really well. The road will be good for my cross and vice versa.
The move from Telenet to Boels was only possible thanks to her cross team annulling her contract in December. Most cross contracts run up until March, but the Belgian team were willing to let Harris move, as long as it wasn’t to a rival squad.
“My contract with Telenet was supposed to end in March but with the UCI pro contract they need to start in January. So I wrote to me team manager asking if I could leave the team early if it was to a road team. He gave me the confirmation to do that yesterday. He was happy as long as it wasn’t a rival Belgian cross team.”
With her new team organised for 2016 Harris can now concentrate on fulfilling her final cyclo-cross obligations before dedicating herself to the road. The Olympics are the main target, although Harris is realistic about her chances of making the Great Britain women’s team.
“I’ve not seen the Rio course yet but I know that it’s mega hard. I know that if I do the right races and prepare for it then I could put myself in a position to be considered for selection. There’s obviously a good group of strong British girls but if I’m able to do a good job for Lizzie that’s something that I’d like to do.”