Great Britain Cycling Team’s Emily Kay is excited about competing against her cycling heroes in the first ever British women’s professional stage race, The Women’s Tour on 7-11 May.
The 18-year-old from Bromsgrove also revealed that she and her team are confident that they can mix it with the senior professional teams in the five-day stage race that starts in Oundle, Northamptonshire.
"I'm really excited,” said Kay, who moved up from the Great Britain Olympic Development Programme at the end of 2013. “I think it reflects how much bigger women's cycling is getting in Britain.
“It's a real big step forward I think so I'm really excited to be racing against some pretty amazing women on the road and getting to do it in front of a home crowd."
Kay is a long-time fan of Olympic and world champion Marianne Vos, who will be riding the event alongside top riders from 15 other professional and national women’s teams.
“She's someone that I've looked up to in the past couple of years,” Kay said. “She's a real inspiration for me so to get to actually compete against her is something pretty amazing.
"In other sports when people have people that they look up to, they never get to compete against them but I think that's something quite special in cycling. I get to compete against my inspiration and my idol."
Kay will ride in a Great Britain team alongside Hayley Jones, Ciara Horne, Amy Hill and Katie Archibald in support of Lucy Garner, junior road world champion in 2011 and 2012. Kay revealed that she aims to do everything to support Leicestershire-born Garner, with the race so close to home and on roads that suit her sprinting prowess.
"I rode for Lucy when she became junior world champion in Valkenberg when she was a second year junior,” said Kay, who, like Garner has built an impressive palmares as a junior, due in no small part to her sprinting ability.
"I'm going into it obviously to race but as a learning experience. If I can do anything to help her in order for her to be in the best possible position to get as high up or win as many stages as she can then I'll do anything I can.
"Obviously I'd love to get up there and have a go but it's just seeing how it pans out seeing how I can do really."
With Garner at the head of a team which contains senior and junior world record holders on the track in Archibald, Jones and Hill, Kay is confident that they can be competitive amid a peloton of senior pro teams.
"I think there's a lot of depth in the team”, said Kay, who alongside Jones, Hill and Emily Nelson, took the world title and world record in the team pursuit at the 2013 UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Glasgow.
“There's a lot of strong riders. Obviously we're not known on the road but I think that could work in our favour because people aren't going to be looking out for us and don't know us.
"We've got Katie Archibald and Hayley Jones and Ciara and I think going into it without any pressure and expectations I think we can show how strong we can be as a team.
“I think that will really work in our favour. Hopefully we can do just as good as the pro teams and show them how strong we all are."
After a faltering start to the season due to illness, Kay showed her form finishing second overall in the Nigel Measom Two-Day women’s race on Easter weekend and feels that her road form is at a career high.
"I was ill at the start of the year so I didn't get a great start but I've really moved on this year coming up from junior I feel, on the road, better than I've ever felt before, ” said Kay.
"I'm happy with where I am at the moment and I think this is the strongest I've been on the road so hopefully that will show in my racing."