‘I want to learn from every race I do’: Progress is the name of the game for Kim Baptista as she embarks on first season in Holland

Having already found a taste for racing on the Continent, 2019 promises to be a big year for Kim Baptista.

The 18-year-old will be swapping her native Wigan for Holland for the 2019, racing for Westland Wil Vooruit.

Having already racked up some impressive results in mountain biking and cyclocross – not to mention top 20 finishes in last year’s OVO Energy Tour Series – Kim will be up against some of the best Under-23s in the world on the notoriously tough Dutch racing scene.

Kim is one of two riders who will be sharing their season with Allez! Allez! CC in the form of regular blogs as part of our link up with the Dave Rayner Fund.

Last month we asked fellow DRF rider Stuart Balfour, who will also be keeping a diary of his 2019 for Allez! Allez! CC, to introduce himself to readers by answering a few questions.

So, on a recent team training camp in the Spanish seaside resort of Cambrils, we asked Kim to do likewise…

Tell us a little bit about your journey so far – how did you get into bike racing?

Cycling has always been a part of my life. Both my Mum and Dad used to race, as well as my uncle. I did my first race, a local cyclocross event when I was three. I started riding regularly as a first year under eight doing cyclocross and circuit racing. As I got older, I started riding track, BMX and MTB cross country.

Kim has been riding since she was a toddler and has competed across road, cyclocross, BMX and mountain biking.

I’ve been lucky enough to have raced several times abroad but this will be the first time I will be based abroad for a full season.

How would you describe yourself as a rider? What are your main strengths?

I would say I’m quite a versatile rider. I’m equally happy racing a hilly road race as I am sprinting it out at the end of a crit.

I’m also quite a technical rider, I love tight twisty courses which I think comes from doing BMX and mountain biking.

You rode some pretty decent races last year both here and a couple abroad – finishing in the top 25 in four Tour Series races – were you pleased with how 2018 went?

2018 was a bit of a roller-coaster. Breaking my arm at the beginning of the year and getting knocked of my bike and breaking my leg in June was frustrating to say the least but looking back now I think on the whole I have to be pretty pleased with what I achieved.

How did the move to WWV come about? Was Holland a natural choice for you?

I actually guested for WWV at a stage race in Denmark last year. Everything seemed to click and I got on with everyone involved with the team. I had some good results over there and I was invited back to guest for them again in a few races towards the end of the season.

Kim’s first ever race abroad was in her home for this season, Holland, at the Junior Tour of Assen.

The first race I ever did abroad was in Holland at the Junior Tour of Assen and I’ve raced in Holland many times since so I’m really pleased that it is where I will be spending the coming season.

What do you think the biggest challenges are this season and what are your goals?

I think the biggest challenge this season will be moving from junior to Under-23 – longer races and stronger competition. My goals for this season are to learn lots and to keep enjoying it and having fun.

How important is the Dave Rayner Fund to young riders wanting to test themselves in Europe?

The Dave Rayner Fund is amazing and vital for young riders like myself. To be able to spend the whole season in Europe where cycle racing is so big and to only have to concentrate on your training and racing is an invaluable opportunity.

Kim has just finished a training camp with her team Westland Wil Vooruit in Cambrils.

In terms of overall goals on the road, have you got a set timescale for what you want to achieve going forward or are you taking everything a year at a time?

I tend to just focus on a season at a time. This year, being my first as an Under-23 I want to learn from every race I do and at the end of the year if I can look back and see I’ve made progress from the start of the season I will be happy.

And finally, which riders do you look up to?

Anna Van De Breggen, I love how she can mix it at the top in both road and mountain bike.

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