Fresh from her fifth place finish at the 2016 UCI World Cyclo-cross Championships, British champion Nikki Harris is targeting a place in the Great Britain team for the 2016 OIympic road race.
Harris had been hoping to cap the year off with a world championship medal at Heusden-Zolder, but just missed out on a podium finish in a season where she hit new heights with a maiden world cup win in Namur in December. The 29-year-old is now gearing up to swap mud for roads, with domestique duties in Rio on her mind.
“The Olympics is a real objective, but there's a lot of time to go before I'll have a sense of how possible it is.
“Olympics or not, I want to use my ‘cross form and go into the early races on the road being able to contribute to the team. It gives myself and the team an idea of what type of rider I will be on the road and whether I'm capable of doing the job Lizzie would need me to do come the Olympics.”
Harris signed a one-year contract with Boels–Dolmans for the 2016 season, allowing her to combine cyclo-cross with road racing, with the aim of being selected for the Olympics as support for team-mate and reigning world champion Lizzie Armitstead.
The cyclo-cross season continues for a few more weeks, after which Harris hopes to transform her blistering form onto the road.
“After this weekend I still have around four or five cyclo-cross races to go. ‘Cross season for me will finish mid-February and my road season with the team will begin a week or two afterwards.
“I will race through till mid-April. At that point I will take some rest and then begin to build up again towards the Amgen Tour of California in the second half of May. What happens next really depends on how the start of my road season has gone.”
If Harris is selected, it won’t be the first time she will have competed at a major multi-sport event, having represented England on the road and the track at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Ten years on, Harris wants to book her place at the biggest sporting event in the world. In order to achieve her dreams, she says she has to give her all and hope things go her way.
“Results come from a lot of hard work and I think you have days when everything seems to go right and fall into place and that's the time you really have to go out and grab the results you can. Other days, things don't quite go to plan and you don't get the result you want but that's part of racing.
“I think if you start to look into results too much and putting pressure on yourself you stop focusing on the important parts of how you get those results in the first place. I try to go into every race having the aim of giving everything I have on that day. If I've finished the race having done that, I'm happy.”