Paris-Roubaix winner and current Canadian road national champion Alison Jackson will join EF Pro Cycling’s new women’s team – EF Education-Cannondale – beginning in 2024.
Jackson earned the biggest win of her career to date earlier this season when she won the third edition of Paris-Roubaix from a breakaway that many considered doomed. She is also a two-time Canadian road race national champion and former time trial national champion. She has won stages of the Ladies Tour, the Women’s Tour of Scotland, and Simac Ladies Tour as well as the points jersey at the Ladies Tour of Norway and the Tour of Scandinavia. Jackson has represented Canada at the road race world championships nine times, earning sixth place in 2021.
For Jackson, there were multiple reasons why signing with EF Education-Cannondale was so appealing.
“EF Pro Cycling does such a good job with letting me be me and I love that part,” she said. “I can just be who I am and it’s appreciated on and off the bike. I really love the brands and partners that are on board with EF Education-Cannondale. I love the storytelling that EF Pro Cycling does, like RaceTV, so there’s a lot of other things that signing with this team adds to my life alongside bike racing.”
Anyone who follows Jackson on social media already knows that the same passion and energy she puts into racing, she applies to enjoying life – and dancing!
“I just want to share laughter with other people. The videos I make and the dances I do, they’re always funny in a lighthearted, positive way. If I can make people laugh and take their minds off things or just have people join in my joy, it feels good,” Jackson admitted.
Esra Tromp, General Manager of EF Education-Cannondale, recognises the importance of Jackson’s joyful approach to life, but knows there is another serious side to the 34-year-old.
“She is a rider with a big personality who shows it with a lot of fun videos and dances and she brings that fun element to the team, but in speaking with her, I can see a determined and focused rider who can still learn a lot. She can also balance this racing side of her with the fun-loving side of her. This also inspires teammates to have a little bit of fun around the races. She brings experience, determination, discipline, and fun. As a rider, I think she can perform on an even higher level than she has in the past couple of years and can win even more. We’re going to help her with that.”
Whether it will be Jackson or a teammate crossing the finish line first, winning is among the Canadian’s priorities for 2024.
“I just want us to win bike races,” Jackson said with determination. “I think that with bold riding and good legs, it’s going to be good. My personal goals will always be in the spring and I just want to take confidence from the Paris-Roubaix win to win again, ideally in some of these other classic races that I’ve had my eye on. I love racing and I always say I just want to be a difference-maker, so whether it’s me getting to be the winner or helping a teammate to make that happen, my goal is to do something that really matters in the race.”
Though Jackson only started riding bikes at age 19, she has been an athlete her entire life.
“As a kid, I had all this extra energy I didn’t know what to do with so my mum put me in all these sports,” she said. “When you’re from a small town, if you’re going to play sports, you have to play all the sports so there’s enough for a team.”
In her hometown of Vermilion, Alberta, which has a population of 4,000, Jackson was generally the best athlete at every sport she did, but competing at higher levels was eye-opening for her.
“I was in gymnastics and we’d go to provincial finals and it’d be at another level. I’d think, ‘Oh my gosh, I am so far behind.’ It was like I didn’t know what was possible, so I just wanted to keep going,” she remembered.
Discovering what is possible has always been a major drive for Jackson; something that team general manager Esra Trump cites as one of the many assets she will bring to the team. “She won Paris-Roubaix this year, which is really one of the biggest, most beautiful races out there,” Tromp says. “That is, of course, a big achievement, but I think it also says a lot about her, about setting a goal, having a dream, and going one hundred percent for it. Everyone thought in that race the peloton would catch the break, but she never stopped believing and I think that is something she brings to the team – a deep sense of belief.”
This attitude is part of Jackson’s philosophy and she credits it with taking her far in life, both in and out of racing.
“I’m super positive and resilient,” Jackson said. “Not everything in life is always awesome, but to be able to acknowledge that and then get back to my natural state of positivity is helpful. And my resiliency goes a long way in a bike race. We lose more times than we win and we have to have that resiliency to keep coming back, to keep coming back after a crash or a disappointment. I’ve got a zest for life and storytelling. The life we live as professional athletes, we definitely collect so many stories when we’re at the bike races.”