IT was during games night at home that Jenny Holl realised just how much she was missing competitive cycling.

The 20-year-old moved back to the family home in Blair Drummond from Manchester for lockdown, giving the third year British Cycling senior academy rider an unexpected chance to continue her training amid the tranquillity of the rural Scottish countryside.

That has been a restorative experience for the most part, although there was also a moment of enlightenment when she realised she was missing racing more than she had previously thought.

“It’s been nice being back at home with my family and the dog and getting out on the local roads,” she explains. “We’ve been training quite full-on still and my motivation has been pretty high.

“But I’ve definitely missed racing. We played a game of Cluedo one night and I got overly-competitive and fell out with my family a bit! And that’s when I realised I need racing to get that side of my personality out.”

Holl will get the chance to scratch that itch this evening when the SKODA V-Women’s Tour gets underway, pitting some of the best cyclists in the world against each other over three stages of racing. There will be one crucial difference, however.

Rather than enjoying the fresh air of the English countryside during the opening 38km that stretches from Harwich to Bury St Edmunds, the riders will be based in their homes, gyms or, in Holl’s case, her back garden as they jostle for the finishing line.

All will be connected via RGT Cycling – a virtual reality cycling simulator – and Holl says it is as close to the real thing as can be expected under current restrictions.

“It’s definitely going to have a different feel to it as I’m going to be out in my garden,” she says. “But it’s great just to be racing again.

“The system we’re racing on feels realistic as you have climbs and things like that. We did a practise run on the Paterberg which is a cobbled course in Belgium and it was really intense. As soon as you hit the climb it really ramped up. I was in my smallest gear doing as much power as I physically could but it was so tough. I must have looked ridiculous if anyone had walked past!

“I’m going to be racing for the next three nights in my garden as long as it’s not raining. I’ve got the iPad with the screen in front of me and ready just to go for it.”

Having started the year strongly before the pandemic descended, Holl is hoping to pick up where she left off when “real” racing resumes later in the summer.

“We did a couple of races at the start of the season that went well so I was in a good place when lockdown started,” she adds. “I had been really looking forward to the under-23 track championships that were meant to be next month and hopefully they will still happen but delayed. And the same for the British road championships.

“We’re hoping that from August things will start to open up in Belgium and places and we can get back into proper racing again.”

When she’s not training, Holl is working towards her Humanities degree with the Open University, something she feels is vital to maintaining a balanced lifestyle that isn’t entirely centred to being on a bike.

“It’s just a nice distraction,” she adds. “It means that cycling isn’t everything that’s going on in your life. Because if it’s going bad and that’s all you’ve got then it can be a nightmare. So it’s good to be able to switch off and think of something else. Even if it is studying.”

Mapping out the long-term future is a precarious business in the current climate but Holl already has one goal she is eager to aim for.

“The Commonwealth Games are definitely in my thoughts. It would be amazing to ride for Scotland again. I did the Tour of Scotland last year and that was the first time I had raced for Scotland since I was a youth. I would definitely fancy doing that again if I could.”