SHARON LAWS believes her Swiss-based Bigla Pro Cycling team will make a big impression at the second Aviva Women’s Tour in Britain this week (June 17-21) although she is not hopeful of retaining her Queen of the Mountains title.

Laws, the former British road race champion, used her climbing expertise to claim the QoM jersey in the inaugural tour last year which brought thousands of fans out to the roadside in the East of England.

Laws, from Bourton-on-the-Water though she now lives in Girona, Spain, has since switched from US team United Healthcare to Bigla but her debut in her new blue and white livery proved disastrous as she broke her collar bone in the Tour of Qatar in February.

Sharon admits she is short of race fitness but has crammed a World Cup event in Philadelphia and the Tour of Bira in the Basque country over the last 10 days to make herself more competitive for a rare appearance on British shores.

She posted a very respectable 13th place in the final stage of the Bira, in which team-mate Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio finished runner-up in the overall classification. “Last season’s Women’s Tour was one of the highlights of the season,” Laws told the Standard.

“It was so well organised and the crowds were amazing. It was one of the few races when I really thought ‘wow, I’m a professional athlete’.

“Unfortunately, my fitness and form is not so good at the moment. I had a rough start to the year for various reasons. The main problem was that I broke my collar bone in Qatar and I have been really struggling to get back to a good level having missed so much racing early season.

“I didn’t road race after July, 2014 so then missing out on the spring races has really put me on the back foot. The Bira will help give me some more speed in my legs but it is unrealistic to think I can be in the form I was last year.”

While playing down her chances of defending the QoM jersey in the race that starts in Bury St Edmunds and finishes five days later in Stevenage, Sharon insists Bigla are a team to watch.

“We have a strong team for the WT; Iris Slappendel has been in great form and I think the WT is a great opportunity for her as she is normally working hard for other team-mates.

“Vera Koedooder is always one to look out for in breakaways and Lotta Lepisto is a very good technical sprinter.

“I haven’t raced this year with Emilie Aubry and Caroline Baur but they are super-motivated for the race and have been racing well elsewhere in Europe."

Again Sharon was not blessed with the best of luck at the World Cup race in Philadelphia where Bigla rider Shelly Olds took fourth place. “The US puts on really good races,” said Sharon. “The Philly race was live-streamed, we had the prime race slot at 12.30pm with the men racing before us at 8am – usually it’s the other way round – and there was equal prize money.

“It is so good for the growth of women’s cycling. I met so many people that had travelled great distances just to watch our race.

“Unfortunately, I had a mechanical problem and had to have two wheel changes in the first 5km.

“I then spent more than 10km trying to chase back on to the peloton. That used a lot of energy as the race started very fast. I just rejoined the group a few kilometres before the first climb so it took me some time to recover.

“That big effort really cost me later in the race. Doris Schweizer is really strong at the moment so it was a shame to lose her to a mechanical problem and I was disappointed for her as she is a really good climber.”

After the Women’s Tour Laws will be able to spend a few days with her mum Joy in Bourton.

“I love going back to Bourton-on-the-Water, especially in the summer, as the Cotswolds is such a beautiful area.

“There will also be some rushed admin to be done – the main priority being to renew my full passport!”

Then she will hope to be in better shape for her attempt to win the National Road Race title she took in 2012 when the renewal takes place in Lincoln on Sunday, June 28.