London 2012 star tells Frank Dalleres about a capital return and banter with the Queen
WHEN you have won just about every title that track cycling has to offer by the age of 22, including a gold medal at a home Olympics, it is surely natural to seek out a new challenge – and that is exactly what Dani King has done.
The Hampshire rider, who also boats three World Track Championship golds, a European Track Championship gold and received an MBE earlier this year, is trying her luck at road racing as one of the star signings of the Wiggle Honda team.
She has already tasted victory for the British outfit, romping home at the Milk Race in Nottingham last month, and will be aiming for more glory on Saturday in the Rapha Elite Women’s Criterium at the IG London Nocturne.
It will be her first UK appearance alongside Wiggle Honda team-mates Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell, with whom she won Olympic gold as Team GB took the London 2012 Velodrome by storm last summer, and told City A.M. she can hardly wait.
“With the Wiggle team, I know a lot of people are excited about us being there. I’m looking forward to it,” she says. “I’ve done the London Nocturne before and I think hopefully with myself, Laura and Jo all riding that will give us even more atmosphere.”
King credits crowd power with helping to propel her to victory at the Milk Race, despite only arriving from Holland in the early hours having completed two gruelling 120km rides over the previous two days.
“It wasn’t exactly the best preparation – or maybe it was!” she jokes. “The Velodrome has a roof, so it’s different to the road, but in Nottingham there were just lines and lines of people there. The atmosphere definitely pushed me along.”
Despite her immediate success with the Sir Bradley Wiggins-backed team and long-term dreams of winning the Tour of Flanders, King is by no means turning her back on the track.
“I don’t think I’d ever leave the track stuff behind but I really do enjoy the road,” she says.
“I think I’ve still got a lot more to give as a rider because I’m so young and still improving. The [track] team pursuit is changing to four women and four kilometres, so that’s a new challenge in itself that really motivates.”
London 2012 glory saw King’s profile rocket, with holidays interrupted by paparazzi and the more welcome surprise of receiving the MBE at Buckingham Palace in April, when she took the opportunity to expand the Queen’s cycling knowledge.
“It was incredible,” she recalls. “She just asked me if I was still training and I said yeah and that I’d been in Holland, and she said ‘that’s good because it’s flat there’, and I said ‘yeah but it’s windy’. We just had a bit of banter.”