WHEN Kate Richardson took the plunge and switched from triathlon to cycling, she was entirely unsure as to how it would go. 

However, just over a year on from taking the leap, things couldn’t have gone better for the teenager. 

Her first stroke of luck was making the move into the world of cycling at just the same time Scotland’s first-ever women’s professional road team was being launched; Alba Road Team. 

Having already demonstrated her talent on the bike in triathlon, Alba’s team manager, Bob Lyons, snapped her up and the 19-year-old has gone on to be the team’s leading performer this season. 

Add to that, a GB vest on the track and teaming up with some of Britain’s foremost riders at the Track Nations Cup, Richardson admits that never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined her progress would be so rapid. 

“I am quite hard on myself and so even though it was my first season, I did want to get some decent results and do well,” the Glaswegian says. 

“It’s been mad though, I never expected to have done so well and to have got the results I have.  

“Particularly on the track, I only started on it in October so I never expected to pick it up this quickly.  

“Doing the Track Nations Cup in April was really cool – riding for GB and being in a team with people like Laura Kenny; it was all quite surreal.” 

The formation of Team Alba, and her subsequent invitation to join, could not have come at a better time for Richardson. 

Having left Scotland’s elite triathlon programme last spring – a decision she agonised over, Richardson admits she was somewhat directionless. 

Alba has been set up as a development team with the dual aim of helping riders progress to the very highest level of the sport and also promoting women’s cycling and giving young female riders in this country a path to reach the top. 

Richardson has established herself as the lead rider of the team, securing some impressive results in the Tour Series and she admits that being in a team with a goal wider than solely winning bike races is particularly gratifying.” 

“Joining Alba was definitely not a grand plan but I was just really fortunate that they decided to take me on,” she says.  

“It’s a brilliant team to be part of, women’s cycling is becoming such a big sport and it’s so important to have this team in Scotland.  

“It’s huge for young riders to see others going through the system and getting to the top.” 

Richardson’s form throughout the season bodes well for the British Road Race Championships, which begin in Dumfries today. 

Over the course of four days, Richardson will ride the under-23 time trial, as well as the circuit race and road race and with this being her first time racing against some of the best in the world on the road, the teenager is intrigued to see how she fares. 

“I’m excited about the British Champs.” she says.  

“A lot of the girls are part of continental or World Tour teams so it’ll be really good to see how I measure up against them.  

“I’m aiming for a podium in the TT and in the crit, I’d like to be up there too.  

“In the road race, I’m not putting any position in my head but I want to ride aggressively.” 

However Richardson does over the next four days, she will end her season safe in the knowledge that her debut season as a cyclist has been a resounding success. 

She is not one to rest on her laurels though, and is adamant that she will target both the road and track simultaneously as she hits her twenties. 

Her ambitions are to make it to the very top and, judging by her rapid rise so far, surely few would bet against her. 

“A world Tour team is the goal I think everyone wants,” she says.  

“And I’d like to keep improving on the track and get onto the GB podium squad in the next couple of years, which hopefully means the Olympics at some point in my career.  

“The plan is definitely to do both road and track – that’s becoming more common now and it keeps things interesting too.” 

Richardson will be in exalted company in Dumfries over the next four days. 

In today’s time trial at The Crichton, Scottish Olympian Anna Shackley, who won the under-23 title last year, will step up to the elite category while in the men’s event, Englishman Ethan Hayter is likely to be the one to watch, while Scots John Archibald and Mark Stewart will also be in action as they fine-tune their Commonwealth Games preparation. 

In tomorrow’s circuit race, Stirling’s Jenny Holl will be on the start line after winning Euro Para-Cycling gold last month as pilot to Sophie Unwin, while Strathpeffer’s Finn Crocket will go into the men’s race after having a solid Tour Series this season. 

In Sunday’s road race, the star attraction will be Mark Cavendish, who will be attempting to stop Ben Swift completing his hat-trick of national titles, with Archibald and Stewart again on the start line. 

In the women’s race, Shackley is likely to be in contention for victory, as will pre-race favourite and defending champion, Pfeiffer Georgi.