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Alison Jackson wants 2022 to be bigger and better than ever.
The Canadian rider hopes to build upon a strong end to this year that saw her take a first WorldTour win, and the national time trial and road race double.
It was a big year for Jackson, but it was missing a big spring result that she and her Liv Racing team so desperately wanted, which was partially down to some ill-timed misfortune for her teammate Lotte Kopecky, who is moving to SD Worx this winter. The spring campaign is a major goal for Jackson next year and she wants to help her teammates find success, too.
“I want us to win more bike races. I’ve added some new goals to the list because last year, I really did accomplish a lot of my big-ticket items that were on my career goals list,” Jackson told VeloNews.
“I still want really that spring classic win. And the culture on Liv is, you know, we share the workload, and we champion each other to win races. So, I also look forward to helping my teammates accomplish what they want to accomplish. It creates a really good team dynamic. When you know you’re going to get your shot or your turn.”
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Jackson was one of several riders in the latter part of the 2021 season that capitalized on a more aggressive style of racing. She won the opening stage of the Simac Ladies Tour in a two-up break that made it to the line just four seconds ahead of the pack.
The 33-year-old came into the second part of the season fairly fresh after a truncated opening racing stint that was followed by a lengthy period of training at home.
“For me, it started off with going to the Olympics. It was a last-minute call for me, and I was pleasantly surprised with my form there. I just took that and a, sort of, new determination into to the next bit of racing,” Jackson said. “I think the style of racing now really favors bold racing. We saw that in the Olympics, we saw that in how I won my stage. We saw a lot of races won from breakaways.
“I had a lot of energy and passion because I had spent three months in Canada before the Olympics, just training. When you’ve been away from racing it builds that fire inside and you really want to do it well. Then by celebrating every one of those moments, and really feeling like, ‘wow, I’ve made it here, and this is what I was able to accomplish,’ really helped me to build for each event that came after.”
Jackson’s run of success helped deliver a one-year extension to her contract with Liv Racing, something she hopes will help continue her recent development.
“I believe that a happy heart is going to produce better results than someone who’s not happy in the environment that they’re in. It gives you just that little bit extra push a little bit more, to see a little bit bigger picture,” she said.
TV coverage and changing racing
Jackson was one of the inaugural Women’s WorldTeam riders after stepping up to the level with Team Sunweb (now DSM) in 2020 when the series was launched, before moving to Liv Racing for this year. Since starting her career with the American squad Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air in 2015, she has felt the impact of development push in the women’s side of the sport.
“It’s great to see the sport growing. This year, there was a standard way to watch a bike race and to be a fan,” Jackson told VeloNews.
“That’s so helpful for all fans of women’s cycling. Before I’ve had to try to find something on Twitter, or maybe there is a live feed or like and it’s really the diehard fans who would do all that work before the race to find how to watch the race. Now it’s easier for all fans to be able to tune in in a consistent way and watch the races. There’s just a lot of good things happening in women’s cycling.”
With the advent of the WorldTour series of races for women and the tiered team system, a growing number of races are now broadcast live on television or a proper online stream – not a Facebook live filmed from someone’s camera phone at the finish line. In fact, big races without some sort of broadcast, whether it’s live or highlights, have become much less common.
Jackson has noticed a difference in the number of fans interacting with the sport due to the better coverage and she believes that it will have an impact on the races themselves. She also believes that it will boost the value of riders whose work isn’t to win races themselves.
“I think it actually will change how we race bikes a little bit. When we talk about men’s racing people will go in the early break, and it’s visible, you see what they’re doing, and you can see what the teammates are doing. You don’t just see the person who wins,” Jackson said.
“Women’s cycling has really been a bit more of a cutthroat environment because if you can’t see the whole race, the only value you see is the winner or the top 10. Now, we see a lot of riders getting value and other teams seeing what they do. It gives teammates more confidence to be in the early break or to be a little more active early on.”