South London cyclist Maia Forde selected to join prestigious ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy

MAIA FORDE from Tooting, South London, has been selected from more than 90 riders to be part of the prestigious ŠKODA Driver’s Seat Initiative (DSI) Cycling Academy.

A Biomedical Science graduate with a masters degree in Psychology, Maia works as a mental health and wellbeing practitioner in London. Alongside her day job she will join Academy Principal, Dame Sarah Storey and complete the program that offers young female riders the opportunity to gain invaluable experience thanks to ŠKODA’s sponsorship of some of cycling’s biggest events.

Dame Sarah, Britain’s greatest Paralympian, said: “Maia was a joy to meet and test at the event at Lee Valley and although she had only been cycling since last summer it is clear she’s been working hard to bring herself up to speed on everything to do with the sport.

“Her tests were impressive and the combination of her determination and natural talent was very exciting to watch. I am really looking forward to supporting Maia and helping her further develop her skills both on and off the bike. ”

The 2022 ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy program, now in its fourth year, is designed to sit alongside each rider’s existing club or team activity, providing the opportunity to experience the life of a professional rider with on and off bike experiences throughout the year.

Maia said: “I’m so excited for all that’s coming up. I can’t wait to start working with Dame Sarah and I’m proud to be a young black female representing my community within the sport. ”

Once a talented rower, Maia only took up cycling seriously last year when her 12-hour hospital shifts took over and she needed a more time-efficient sporting activity.

She added: “My boyfriend encouraged me to start commuting on my bike, and that’s how I first got involved in the sport.

“Towards the end of the rowing season last September, I bought some cycling shoes, joined my current club, the Black Cyclists Network and then I was hooked.”

Maia, an aspiring clinical pyschologist, becomes one of three new riders to join the Academy. More than 90 aspiring female amateur riders applied to join by providing details of their cycling experience, ambitions, and training schedule.

A total of 20 riders were then shortlisted to attend the second stage of the selection process, a testing day at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London.

Maia was put through her paces in a series of cycling tests that included a peak power test, a three-minute maximal test and a 12-minute steady state challenge. She then completed laps of the outdoor closed circuit to test her physical handling and pacing abilities.

Maia’s father, Ricky spoke of his delight at the news: “I’m so proud of Maia and excited to see her join the Academy. Her new found passion for cycling has also rubbed off on me. She inspired me to get my own road bike, and now I’m also a member at Black Cyclists Network.Good luck this year Maia! ”

ŠKODA is committed to furthering the opportunities for female riders and the aim of the year-long, inclusive program is to provide ambitious cyclists, aged between 18-24, with a chance to learn and develop a clear direction within the sport so that they can maximize their potential.

Dame Sarah’s mentorship will include planning and bespoke advice on racing, training and career progression beyond the Academy. Additional social media and media training will be available alongside a sports psychology program developed exclusively for the Academy.

GIFTED: Maya Forde

The Academy ride experiences will take place during ŠKODA sponsored events that include the Women’s Tour (June), Tour de France (July) and Tour of Britain (September). A further British Cycling experience day is scheduled for October.

Maia, along with the two other selected applicants, join three existing Academy riders, Maddi Aldam-Gates, Gwyneth Parry and Olivia French, who were selected for the program last year.

ŠKODA started life as a bicycle company in 1895 and the brand continues to honor its heritage. In tandem with its headline sponsorship of key events in the cycling calendar, ŠKODA is championing gender equality in the professional tour series.

For more information on the ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy, please visit: www.skoda.co.uk/discover/cycling-academy

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