Haz click aquí para cambiar a Español

Annabel Fisher: A story of a fearless woman

Every story begins with a turning point. The beginning of one cycle is the end of another. Annabel Fisher, who won the Gravel Earth Series in 2023, has a life full of adventures and experiences both on and off the bike, with many chapters. Each year in her life is a rollercoaster, switching between skiing and cycling. Annabel is an athlete with an exciting career and a person with many layers and stories to tell.

It was only in 2018 that Annabel turned professional in the road discipline and moved to Switzerland, thus beginning a new chapter in her life, leaving Great Britain and a corporate job behind. The stage was set for the start of her elite cycling career.

The beginning of the gravel chapter

In 2022, a new opportunity arose. Annabel would continue cycling, but this time, leaving the road and venturing into new terrain in a women’s gravel team, Café Du Cycliste. According to the athlete, this invitation came about because of her “craziness”; her qualities as a cyclist, combined with her diversity and plasticity in adapting to different sports, turned her into an excellent rider for gravel. This bet proved to be promising, and she won her first race, with emphasis on the first. It was her first gravel race (The Traka 100km) and her first victory in this discipline, followed by another victory in The Rift, leaving Annabel with a feeling of fulfillment: “Oh, I’m quite good at this gravel stuff.”

Cycling involves many factors, luck being one of them, or rather, the absence of bad luck. Gravel is no exception, and Annabel would experience this bad luck in her third competition, in Monsterrato, as she told us: “I was in the lead, and I had mechanical problems everywhere, I had an initial issue, I came back into the front, I had another one… I was so exhausted, but I ended up in 4th place. But in the end, it was good because I qualified for the World Championships.”

In the aforementioned World Championships, she had a puncture at a critical moment in the race. She was in the breakaway, already past the assistance point, and without many options to choose from, she decided to ride back to return to the pits. The UCI disqualified her for that reason, which was a difficult moment for an athlete who had well-defined goals and felt at an excellent fitness level.

Regarding her participation in the first edition of the Gravel Earth Series in 2023, it was most satisfactory. Despite not participating in all the events on the calendar that make up the GES, she maintained perfect consistency in results, including victories in some of the toughest events. In the grand final in Cardona, Spain, Annabel crossed the finish line in first place, which allowed her to score the necessary points to declare herself the leader of the Series and, therefore, win the title with her.

New horizons at Classified x Ridley Factory Team

After two years at Café Du Cycliste, Annabel embraced a new Journey with the Classified x Ridley Factory Team. Here, she is the only woman, and the team is completed by three male athletes: Piotr Havik, Daan Grosemans, and Toby Perry.

This move was prompted by a desire to do more races, and the new team provided her with these opportunities plus better financial conditions. However, even though she’s on the team, Annabel’s schedule differs from the boys’, as she’s a climber and, therefore, chooses the races best suited to her profile. She admits that the team is in the process of growth and that she is thrilled to have the opportunity to help.

Regarding her goals for this season, and you’d expect that defending her title would be one of them, Annabel defines the Gravel Earth Series as an “anti-goal” since she considers that there are more exciting races in other series and better suited for her. She wants to defend her title in home races in – Villars (Switzerland). Regarding the international championships, Annabel will focus on the European Champs in Italy instead of the Worlds, the last being in Leuven, Belgium, with a flat profile.

The training cycle: Skiing and cycling

Many female athletes share a love of skiing and cycling, and it’s a highly sought-after combination. Annabel is no exception, focusing on cross-country skiing during the winter. It’s a different approach to training, but according to the athlete, it pays off. Contrary to what is commonly seen in cycling, where the bicycle is present every day in the cyclist’s life, Annabel leaves her bike on the side from October to March, months in which she focuses entirely on skiing.

According to her, it has advantages since her physical condition improves a lot with this type of cross-training because she uses her whole body. The effort is constant: “Four hours of skiing is like doing seven hours of cycling,” she argues. Annabel also mentioned that skiing makes her a much more complete athlete, which is, in turn, visible on the bike, making her stand out physically from her opponents.

She admits that the training sessions are incredible from a mental point of view because, at the end of October, she reaches a point of saturation on the bike and no longer enjoys training in the same way. Hence, this is almost a strategic break. In March, she returns to her training sessions with a different physical -because of the ski training and altitude- and, above all, mental capacity.

While discussing the goals for 2024, Annabel let us know that she is constantly keeping an eye on the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy, but she is also focused on the upcoming cycling races.

Road vs. Gravel

When faced with the question, “Road or gravel?” Annabel didn’t shy away from choosing the latter, justifying it in a very passionate way. “Gravel is honest!” she explicitly said. Annabel continued explaining that racing on the road is very different from gravel. “On the road, there’s a team behind you and a whole strategy – for example, protecting the leader in the peloton, whereas in gravel, it’s a question of physical capacity, the athletes are more exposed, and you’re either at the front of the race or you can’t win it,” she accurately argued.

“Gravel is pure. The strongest wins!”

Annabel has already won one of the most coveted titles in two years of gravel, but how did this gravel phenomenon come about? Is it a question of technical ability? We know this type of sport requires technical, physical, and mental skills, an inevitable triad in cycling, but for Annabel, it comes down to one characteristic: lack of fear. Of course, she had the technical and physical ability, and this particularity enabled her to save time and win space from other contenders.

“Technically, I’m not the best, but I’m fearless.”.

Additionally, Annabel admitted to us that gravel is growing and declared that “where there is money, there will be progress.” She added that she earns more money from gravel than road cycling, increasing the discrepancy since gravel is a relatively new sport. Her future in the discipline depends on several factors: team, victories, funding, and media exposure.

The person behind the bike

Annabel has shown resilience and determination throughout her career and recognizes that coping with routine is not always easy. She sees her home in Switzerland as a safe place that she can always return to, even if she doesn’t spend much time there due to the demands of her job and constant travel.

Her adventures resonate in her head and her future prospects, and given everything she’s done so far, we’re looking forward to more chapters in her story in gravel, skiing, ultra-cycling (who knows), other sports, and anything else she sets out to do.

“I don´t do any race races without training to win. I´m on the start line of every race because I want to win that race; whether I win or not is a different matter.”.

As she is known, <<Shotgun>> is a particular name that could be related to her riding style. Still, she tells us that this nickname has many more layers and comes from before, linked to her military past and hunting days, which later also suited her as an athlete: “When I do sports, cycling, running.. I go off as a bullet.”.

Being a professional athlete is a very demanding job, and she admits that what people see are usually the victories and the good times. However, Annabel is very honest about her challenges outside of sports. Behind the athlete, there is also a person, and it is not easy to manage all the parts of her life. She also says it is a lonely journey, given her sacrifices to get to this level and be ‘Shotgun.’

“My future is my next race, and then the next race… If I don’t have my next race, what do I do?.”

Photos: Ridley Bikes and Annabel Fisher archives