First things first, introduce yourself.
My name is Imogen Cotter, I am 25 years old. I have been cycling for two years and I am now living in Belgium and riding for S-Bikes Bodhi Cycling Team.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in London but moved to Ireland when I was 4. I grew up in Co. Clare, on the west coast of Ireland. It is a beautiful place, and I spent the majority of my childhood outdoors!
Where is your current home?
I am currently living in Belgium, in a place called Denderhoutem, which is in Oost-Vlaanderen. It is cycling heaven!
How did you get into riding a bike?
In February of 2017, Cycling Ireland had a talent transfer program running. I was living in London at the time, and the only reason I entered was so I had an excuse to go home to Ireland for a few days! Little did I know it would lead to me getting selected for the national squad, moving to Mallorca, representing Ireland, and now moving to Belgium to race for a team here.
What is your local climb? The climb you do the most out of any other.
My local climb that I do most here in Belgium is the Muur van Geraardsbergen.
Nice! Can you describe it for those who don’t watch Tour of Flanders? What is it like?
The first time I did this climb, I wasn’t aware but I actually only went up the short side of the climb. I got to the top in about 30 seconds, and thought it was so easy. Then on one of my first dates with Niels Platteau, a Belgian cyclist and now my boyfriend, he brought me up the climb the long way. I thought I was dying when I got to the top. I had to get off my bike and lie down on the ground. So I guess you could say it is kind of hard!
What kind of efforts is the climb suited to?
There are a few pretty steep sections with cobbles that really suit high-power seated efforts.
Is the Strava QOM for the climb ever in your thoughts, or do you strictly focus on the goals of the current effort?
I just focus on whatever effort I am doing. The climb is included in a lot of races here in Belgium, so I think my chances of getting the crown are slim!
Any other climbs in the area you prefer, or is this climb your favourite?
A lot of the climbs in Belgium are short and high-power, and I prefer a longer steady climb. I could climb at 5 or 6% all day long! It is hard to find climbs like that here.
What about favourite climb overall? Any reason?
I love Soller in Mallorca. I lived in Mallorca for about 8 months with the national track squad, and Soller was about a 30 minute ride from where I was living. I love the switchbacks, and the gradient suits me perfectly. I hate descending it though!
What is the hardest climb you’ve summited by bike?
There is a short hill near my house in Ireland. It is not a famous climb by any stretch, but I have done some really grim efforts on it. I did a session there in the pouring rain this summer, where I climbed it full gas 10 times. It kicks up into a steep section at the end and it nearly finished me.
What kind of training do you do in general?
My training differs from month to month. I am just coming out of my base phase now with my coach, Jody Warrington at Neo Pro Cycling Coaching. During my base phase, I did a lot of long efforts sub-FTP, which brought my strength way up. Now, I am starting to focus on VO2 work, which is a different kind of pain – shorter efforts at a higher intensity.
Touchy subject, but something that has happened to every bike rider at some point, getting dropped. When did you last get dropped in a race or ride? What was going on when you got dropped?
In 2019, it will be my first ever full road season. I am still getting used to riding in a bunch with so many riders, and it really pushes me out of my comfort zone. I was dropped in two road races I did in Mallorca last summer. Once I came to Belgium to race last August, I was dead set on not getting dropped and I managed to stay with the bunch in all of my races. Now, I just need to improve my skills so I don’t just sit at the back the whole time!
Did you get back to the group you were with?
I don’t think so!
Gruelling turbo session or climbing the worst climb you can imagine in wind and rain?
Turbo. Give me Zwift any day. There is nothing worse than being cold and wet on a bike!
On to more current matters. Which team/club are you riding for this year, and what do you aim to achieve in 2019?
I am riding for S-Bikes Bodhi Cycling Team this year. It is a new team, and my first ever road team, so I am very excited for the year ahead. I am splitting the 2019 season into 2 halves in my head. In the first half of the season, I want to focus on getting more comfortable in a bunch and learning how to maneuver my way through, as I do not have a lot of experience with this yet. In the second half of the season, I want to start producing the results that I know I am capable of.
What are your interests away from the bike?
Reading, eating, listening to podcasts, going to coffee shops. I am also starting to do some coaching alongside my training, so I enjoy watching videos on coaching now.
Quick fire questions
Tell me your…
Go to summer road bike?
My custom-painted Specialized Tarmac team bike. It is a work of art. Thank you to Color Monkey and S-Bikes for this beauty!
One climb to ride said dream bike up?
Favourite cycling book?
Anything about Lance.
Favourite cycling movie?
Icarus on Netflix.
Favourite pro rider?
I like a lot of pro riders, but I have so much respect for the girls that I see going out and training every day that I know personally. The Irish girls that I lived out in Mallorca with inspire me now. I remember how much work we used to put in and how we used to motivate each other. If I am doing a hard session, I often think about the torturous days we spent at the velodrome together and think that if I got through that, I can get through this.
Favourite piece of cycle clothing you’ve owned?
My 2019 team kit from Bodhi is pretty amazing!