“You have to be a badass rider to win.”

Alexis Ryan wants to put her hands in the air. After her first year with CANYON//SRAM, the 22-year-old entered 2017 looking to reach the top stop. After a third place, fifth overall and young rider's jersey from the Santos Women's Tour in January, it's clear that her first win is coming soon. As she prepares to ride her hometown race, the AMGEN Tour of California, learn more about a rider that CyclingTips named as ‘most likely to have a breakout year in 2017’.

I love training – just going out and riding is the best way to see the countryside. It’s a really good way of connecting with the community too. My Dad always wants to meet me out on a ride, but it’s tricky because my route is dictated by whatever I feel when I get to an intersection: ‘Do I go left, or right?’

I’m tactically savvy in races. I learned and developed the skill because I started racing so young, when I didn’t have the engine to back it up. I had to be smart. My positioning in the bunch is all on instinct – it was drilled into me to be at the front if I wanted to win or make the move, and I still make it my goal in every race.

Because I’m so young, my engine is my weakness. It’s taken me a really long time to develop it. Dealing with the impatience of wanting to grow was something I battled with a lot in 2016. Despite performing well all season, I never had the engine to deliver at the finish. It made me feel like I was in a downward spiral.

It’s exhilarating and powerful to be at the front of a bike race. It’s so hard to get to the front, especially in the Belgian races, but once you get there, you know everything that’s going on. Once you figure out how to be there, there’s no better feeling.

I fractured my humerus and collapsed my zygomatic arch in a crash in 2014. I was pretty messed up, had a bad surgery, went home, had a couple more surgeries, and it just never got any better. I basically lived with a broken arm for seven months. I felt like I was always going to have it and it would never get any better. I eventually made it back on the bike though – I had some unfinished business.

The spring classics are my favourite style of racing. If you win there you have been the toughest person in the race. You’ve gone through hell, and I think that’s why they’re my favourite, because you can’t be weak, you have to be strong and courageous. You have to be a badass rider to win and that’s the kind of rider I want to be.

Off the bike, I love to write. I read all the time when I was a kid, and that turned into writing. I’ve recently got into environmental activism too. I really care for the environment and think it’s a seriously important issue at this point in time.

More women should ride bikes because it’s so liberating. You’re so free when you’re on the bike that you’re not affected by the world around you. It’s just a very freeing motion and when you do it with friends, you build bonds and camaraderie by suffering together.