Get to Know: Women’s Endurance star Maggie Coles-Lyster

Our new ‘Get to Know’ series allows you to find out more about the stars of the UCI Track Champions League. In this latest instalment we speak to Women’s Endurance star Maggie Coles-Lyster. 

Maggie Coles-Lyster will be gunning for glory when she returns to the UCI Track Champions League this season. 

The Canadian feels she has unfinished business after starting brightly last season, winning the Scratch Race in Mallorca before enduring two mixed rounds in London which saw her finish fourth overall in the Women’s Endurance League. 

She’s won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal and been crowned American Criterium Cup champion since then though, and her confidence will be sky high when she hits the UCI Track Champions League boards again in Mallorca on Saturday 12th November. 

We caught up with Maggie to find out about her unique introduction to the sport, her newfound love of training, and her life goals and ambitions:

How did you first get into cycling?
MCL: I was basically born into the sport. My parents were huge cycling fans and when I was five years old they bought a bike shop and developed a team which included Canadian stars such Laura Brown, Jasmin Duehring and Stephanie Roorda. My dad would support the team in the feed zone at races and I’d go with him, handing out bottles.

My parents never pushed me into cycling but I loved being at those races and I naturally gravitated towards it. I started cyclocross and road riding at around eight years old and I was lucky enough to have so many cool role models around me when I was just starting out. I took up track cycling when I was around 12 years old, pretty much as soon as I was tall enough to ride a track bike.

Did you like training when you were growing up?
Not at all, I just really liked going fast, and the competitive side of racing. I didn’t embrace training until the pandemic, actually. During that time you couldn’t do anything else but train and that’s when I really got into the rhythm of it and found an appreciation of spending hours on the bike with no immediate goal.

After lockdown, how much did you enjoy being back competing in events such as the UCI Track Champions League?
MCL: It was a dream come true – I absolutely loved it. One of my main goals for last year was to compete at the UCI Track Champions League and when I got invited, I thought I was going to cry. Being there, getting to spend quality time on the track and getting to know the other riders in a non-World Cup or World Championships scenario, was incredible. At those events we don’t normally get to mingle because we’re with their own national teams, but at the UCI Track Champions League we got to see each other week after week, and get to know each other, which was really special.

What was your favourite moment from the 2021 UCI Track Champions League?
MCL: One of the highlights of my entire career was winning the Scratch race in Mallorca (Round 1) – it’s a moment that will live with me for a very long time. I couldn’t believe I’d won it!

What have you been up to since last season?
MCL: I’ve done a mixture of track and road cycling. On the track, I took part in the Nations Cup and Commonwealth Games, where I won a bronze medal in the Scratch race, and on the road, I recently became American Criterium Cup champion. I’m extremely happy with how this year has gone so far, it’s been a great step in my career, and it’s exciting to carry this form into the UCI Track World Championships in October, and then into the UCI Track Champions League.

What are your goals for the 2022 UCI Track Champions League?
MCL: To maintain the consistency I’ve shown throughout the season so far, and hopefully win the Endurance competition overall. I feel like I did a good job in the first two rounds last season, but I had a couple of bad races in London that bumped me right down the standings.

And who do you think your main rivals will be?
MCL: It’s a hard question to answer without knowing who’s going to be racing, especially with Annette Edmonson and Kirsten Wilde both retiring since last season. If Katie Archibald, Laura Kenny and Jenifer Valente are there, they’re going to be hard wheels to hold. They are all very strong and intelligent riders, and the biggest challenge will be to figure out how to beat them. Ultimately, I’m sure any rider who’s selected will be big competition.

Do you have any goals you want to achieve before the end of your cycling career?
MCL: I have a bucket list that I am slowly creeping towards. On the track, I’d definitely love to win an Olympic gold medal and hopefully I have a few Olympic cycles ahead of me to achieve that. On the road, I’d also love to go to the Olympics – whether that’s in Paris or beyond – and I’d love to win a Spring Classic. I feel like I’m almost at a place where those goals seem realistic.

How about any dreams or ambitions away from cycling?
MCL: I’m currently working through an undergraduate course in Science and Biology, and when I’m done cycling, my goal is to study veterinary medicine and hopefully become an Aquatic Veterinarian. I’ve always been interested in sea life, and I really want to be hands-on, whether that’s working on a rescue boat or in a research team.

I’m also a trained yoga teacher so I’d like to grow that practice and teach more. I’m not particularly loving the virtual sessions though and would rather work with people in a studio.

Any other passions?
MCL: I grew up riding horses and I absolutely love it. It’s something that calms me down when I’m at home, but I don’t get much time to do it nowadays. A little side dream of mine is to be an Olympian in both cycling and show jumping. Show jumping is one of those events which you can still do in your 60’s, so, as they say, dream big! Maybe one day that dream could be a reality.

Who inspired you the most when you were growing up?
MCL: My family supported and believed in me to crazy ends growing up, but there was one specific coach who worked for the national team called Jeremy Storie. Unfortunately Jeremy passed away when I was 14, but he was my first real coach. He’d treat me like a professional athlete and knew I could do incredible things as I progressed through my career. That belief, and the first introduction to training that I got from him was what fuelled my career early on. It still does.

From the racing side, Laura Kenny is someone I’ve looked up to since I was very young. I feel like you’d be hard-pressed to find any female cyclists who don’t look up to Laura. She’s a phenomenal athlete.

The UCI Track Champions League is returning bigger and better in 2022 with the five-round series commencing in Mallorca on Saturday 12 November, visiting Berlin (Saturday 19 November) and Paris (Saturday 26 November) before culminating with a double-header at London’s Lee Valley VeloPark on Friday and Saturday 2-3 December.

You can buy tickets for the Mallorca, St-Quentin-En-Yvelines and London rounds NOW, with ticket information for Berlin coming soon. 

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