A year of big races at home and on the Continent awaits Bex Rimmington after securing a dream ticket as a professional cyclist.
The Melton-born sportswoman joined Team WNT last year as an amateur rider, but turned professional after the ambitious Sheffield-based women’s team gained their UCI licence for the 2017 season.
This allows them to race in top international tours and single-day races.
Bex, who now lives near Burnley, in Lancashire, left her day job and began life as a full-time rider last week.
“Now I’ve gone full-time I’m on a level playing field with the rest of the girls which is a nice place to be,” she said.
“I was a little bit lost on my first day; there was no computer, telephones or customers to deal with.
“But as soon as I was out on my bike I just thought ‘this is great’.
“I can focus on bike riding, rest and recovery. By day three the difference already was unbelievable.
“I was told I wouldn’t notice a massive difference in terms of power, but the main difference is the recovery.
“You’re able to do efforts and intervals day after day which is what I’ll need if I’m selected for stage races.”
She was retained by the elite women’s team on a one-year contract, despite a far-from-ideal 2016 season, a good chunk of which was ruined by a bout of pneumonia.
“Everything was going really well, but I came back from cross country ski-ing in February and was admitted to hospital with pneumonia in March.
“I didn’t start racing until June so it wiped out a lot of my season, but towards the end of it I was coming back to form.”
Bex produced a sensational ride the following month, breaking the course record in victory among a high calibre field at the Mossley CRT Memorial Races in Lancashire.
“I never thought I was going to get back to fitness there, but I lapped the entire field and won it,” she added.
“But I don’t feel I was able to show my best form last year, so fingers crossed for this season.
“This is my apprentice year so I’ll be working hard to show my worth and get a contract for another year.”
While the team’s race plans for 2017 are yet to be finalised, an overseas assignment is already pencilled in for the former triathlete and rower with a trip to Spain in May.
Having spent most of her life in Melton, and with her family still here, Bex is “desperate” to compete in her home race, the Women’s CiCLE Classic, in June.
But there’s no doubting her major target this summer.
“Every single one of us wants to do the Tour of Britain,” she said. “That would be a dream for me.
“There are 15 riders in our squad so there is enough racing for everyone.
“In the height of the season there are probably two or three races abroad each month so I think there’s going to be a fair bit of jetsetting.
“When I first got the calendar through I nearly fell off my chair; I didn’t know where to start.”
She joins a stellar squad of riders as WNT looks to establish itself on the circuit.
The line-up includes Olympic and world championship track gold medallist Katie Archibald, reigning British time trial champion Hayley Simmonds, and Irish national champion Lydia Boylan, as well as two European internationals.
In a sport which is essentially more about the team than the individual, riding in such good company could help Bex realise her lifelong ambition.
“There are a lot of jerseys in our squad; the roster they signed this year is incredible,” she added.
“I have still got that ambition of wearing a Great Britain jersey as a solo rider. Part of me thinks I would still like to compete at the World Time Trial Championships.
“But I just want to get stuck into racing, and if I’m not getting results to help my team-mates to do well.”