Blog: Lauren Kitchen

Moving ahead with FDJ

Changing teams is an emotional rollercoaster. This time of year can be scary, nervous and exciting all at the same time. When I first considered the idea that I might change teams I was very upset and exhausted just at the thought, I mean new equipment, new staff, new team mates, new relationships to form on and off the bike with team mates, a possible new culture to adjust too. All these thoughts had me in tears, I questioned how much do I want it? Is it worth it? Do I have the energy required to go through a change again so soon after only joining WM3 this season? I questioned a lot of things about myself, my self worth and then came full circle to question what others think of me and if it was worth considering my future myself or waiting for someone else to decide for me. After speaking with my coach, Brad, and my family I decided to consider my options for 2018 and beyond and I’m really glad I did. 

I have decided to move to FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope for the 2018 season. This french team really caught my eye this year with their steady growth and appeared to be stepping up to the top level in an organised and professional manner. The management were eager to discuss with me last season and again this season and it just felt right to sign with them for 2018. The team really seem to value me and my input into discussions and their eagerness is what got them across the line for me.  I am excited to join the FDJ family and to be honest it has sparked a new motivation in me for next year, like a chance to prove myself and work with new people along with my long term friend Shara Gillow. I really believe that Shara has the potential to climb with the best in the world in some of the biggest races we have on the calendar and I’m really looking forward to playing a role in this next season.

There is just something about being with the underdog team that really gets me excited. I believe it is important in cycling to always keep moving, whether that is with new goals, new races, new roles or my case a new team, in order to keep the motivation and pressure pumping, never let yourself become comfortable, always push your limits and not just on the bike, in order to get the most out of yourself as a person.

With excitement for 2018, also come some sadness as I leave my WM3 team after only one season. I am very thankful for the support of WM3 and the friendship of my teammates throughout the 2017 season. WM3 is one of the biggest teams in the peloton and one of the key teams for each race they start, and it has been an honour to be a part of this. The dutch mentality feels very close to home with my family ties to the flatlands and the style of racing suited my abilities. WM3 is a top team with a top mentality to improve and I am grateful to have spent the year there.

FDJ I believe will give me the opportunity to prepare and race professionally and also support me to challenge myself with new ideas and opportunities. As a more experienced rider of the peloton I look forward to playing the road captain role with a younger French orientated team and sharing my skills and experience with them. Ill be challenging myself with the French language next year but at this point in my career, bring it on. 

My feeling to have signed with FDJ for 2018 is the opposite of my initial feelings towards changing teams, I feel valued and motivated, I definitely have the energy to forge forward and make 2018 the best year yet, both on and off the bike with a new culture. As my dad recently said to me recently, ‘A rolling stone gathers no moss’ so I can’t wait to keep moving.

But first to finish up my 2017 season with the GP Plouay World Tour event this weekend and then the Holland Ladies Tour next week. Im looking forward to finishing on a high with WM3 before a well earned rest and an exciting offseason…. stay tuned.

Words and Pictures: Lauren Kitchen @laurenkitchen1