Feature Image Credit: Velouk
Pro rider Joe Laverick gives us his take on his first season of racing in the colours of the Ribble Collective, reflecting on the highs, lows, and near misses of his maiden campaign for the historic British cycling brand.
Having competed across multiple disciplines this season, it might be fair to say that Joe Laverick is the utility man of the Ribble Collective. In 2023, the Spanish-based star travelling as far afield as North America and continental Europe to compete in gravel races, time trials and road races. In fact, 2023 also saw Joe make his first foray into the sport of gravel racing. A journey which began with a trip to Canada for the Belgian Waffle Ride at Vancouver Island, and somehow morphed into an unplanned trip across the border to join fellow Collective riders at the world’s premier gravel race, Unbound Gravel in Kansas.
But racing multiple disciplines on his Gravel SL, Ultra SL R and Ultra TT race bikes brings with it its own unique set of challenges - namely how to tailor the training to suit each event, in addition to the sheer volume of races to choose from. After all, you can only ride so many races before risking burnout, right?
In a season that included joining a new team and taking up a new ride discipline, it's little wonder that Joe feels that perhaps he said yes to a few too many races while accumulating a whole lot of airmiles along the way. So, we sat down Joe to reflect on the season that was and what lies in store in the near future.
Left: Joe fine-tunes his riding position at the world famous Silverstone Sports Engineering Hub. Right: Getting the fluids in during a hot and sultry Unbound Gravel.
Joe, you’ve raced road, gravel, and TT in 2023. Does this make you the Swiss army knife of the Ribble Collective?
You could say that, some would probably argue its a jack of all trades sort of situation. This situation has been all over the place from a calendar perspective. I probably raced too much and said yes to too many opportunities but that’s the fun of year one, right?
If you had to choose one discipline over the others, which would it be and why?
Honestly, it’s difficult to say. I enjoy training the most on road, my favourite racing lies with time-trialling but pure joy and excitement sits on the gravel bike. If I had to pick one, it’d probably be road. That was my first love and what got me into the sport.
What was your best result this season?
Probably my 9th place at BWR Vancouver Island. This year was my first time racing gravel, and that race in particular was only my third ever Gravel race. There were parts of the course that played to my strengths and the place as a whole was incredible. It’s one of those races that I’ll never forget.
And your most disappointing?
The Ras Tailteann. I was guest-riding for an Irish club, Foyle CC in a composite team. I was third in the first stage, and felt I was the strongest in the race on some of the days. I’m gutted that the GC fell to pieces on the last day. I think I finished 6th overall after a break on the last day stayed away. I left that race wondering what could have been.
What was your favourite event of the summer?
Unbound Gravel. I had a nightmare day out but it’s the Tour de France of the Gravel world. I wanted to hate that race but however much I tried I couldn’t. The community, the course, the challenge. It’s the best gravel race in the world.
As a competitive cyclist, how do you shape your personal life to support your racing and training?
My whole life revolves around cycling. From the racing and training I do to my other writing work in the industry. When you add in that I live in Girona, it can become overwhelming. My girlfriend is also a pro too!
In our situations, your personal life really has to revolve around the sport. It’s tough sometimes but I wouldn’t change it for the world. There have been times that I’ve been away from home for multiple months which can be hard, but then I pause and remind myself why I’m here and smile. It’s hard, but eighteen year old Joe would be proud. My work is my hobby and I get to travel the world as I do it, that’s pretty cool.
Riding for the Ribble Collective allows you the freedom to create your own race calendar, how do you decide which races to attend?
There are pros and cons. On one hand it was nice when it was done for me, on the other hand the freedom is great. There are some races, whether for sporting or sponsor reasons that you have to hit. There are other races, such as the Ras Tailteann which are now races that are built into me. There are so many races on the calendar these days, it can often be a case of having to choose which races get dropped.
What’s your biggest takeaway from the 2023 campaign?
Coming from a pro road background where everything is dictated, 2023 has taught me to be more deliberate. You’re never too good to learn lessons. I went into the year with few expectations and willing to learn from everyone - it’s the best thing I did. This season reminded me why I love racing bikes.
You've taken up residence in Spain? How does the Spanish cycling culture differ from that of the UK?
My training base is Girona. Whatever bike you want to ride, we have some of the best roads in the world. There are better places to train, but I think as a base to live from it’s the best place to be as a pro-cyclist. The community of like minded people there is great.
Describe your season in three words.
Refinding my love.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently in Vancouver with my girlfriend visiting her family. I’ve restarted winter training here and it’s a case of dodging the bad weather. December will see me return to Girona for a few months to prep for 2024.
Ribble's head designer and ex-US Postal rider Jamie Burrow shares his winter training hacks.
In October of 2023, Ribble Collective rider, Joe Laverick undertook a challenge to complete a 276km loop of the outer M25 aboard his Ribble Ultra TT bike. Check out how Joe prepared for this mammoth ride in his Marginal Gains blog.