Union City criterium - Image ©Copyright Beck Cycling
After a tough world cup in Beijing where I got quite sick, I took some time off to balance the options for the 2012 season. It became clear I wanted to be in races that best suit me; criteriums and fast races. I got in touch with Emile Abraham who runs one of the best amateur teams in the USA; Rossetti Devo Cycling Team.
Emile is himself an excellent rider, he’s put together a strong core of cyclist from six different nations;
Emile Abraham – Trinidad
Gevan Samuel – Trinidad
Daniel Asconeguy – Uruguay
Ricardo Giraldo Sierra – Colombia
Jean-Michel Lachance – Canada
Benjamin Bryant – USA
Franco – Puerto Rico
The calendar is still in the oven, but promised to be filled with some of the best races around USA, Canada, Trinidad, Puerto Rico and other countries.
Our sponsors includes Rossetti bikes which are simply amazing, the best bike shop in Atlanta Outback bikes, EDA construction, SauceBox cyclewear and a few others.
For this venture, I drove a crazy 2250km in two days to finally arrive on wednesday 14th. The following day, was one of those days… building the bike, adjusting the position and finally a short ride which ended up being a long four hours. The next weekend, we had two races on the program. I was a bit anxious about my fitness with a few weeks completely off trainning and a good three and half month off the road. Speaking about winter trainning, it was pretty much the first time in four years, I spent the whole winter in Quebec city. Preparing for a road season in the cold is never easy and it takes a lot of motivation to train at high intensity on the trainer.
Anyhow, I took part in both races; a one hour crit on saturday and a seventy-one mile road race on sunday. To be honest, I was happily surprised with my form. My legs were still sore from the two previous rides in the days before. I tried to go away a few time in the crit and won one prime after the breakaway lapped us, I went on a gruelling 40km solo breakaway in the road race.
Next on the program is a race in Tampa, Florida.
We are in the sprinting line on our way to the Olympic Games of London. Sofia has to participate in the four World Cups, Pan American Championship and the World Championship in order to make enough points to qualify.
The qualification system its complicated, it’s a ranking for Continents. The American continent has 5 places for the women’s omnium and we have Sarah Hammer (USA), Tara Whitten (Canada) and Marlies Mejias (Cuba) that have secured their places for the Olympics in the last season. The big dispute is between Angy Gonzalez (Venezuela), the Colombian Maria Luisa Calle and Sofia Arreola (Mexico).
Sofi hopes to finish in the top 10 of the World Cups and World Championship in order to finish within the first five in the Pan American Ranking.
Training base in
Mallorca is a perfect place for training; it has high mountains as well as flat and safe roads to do nice and long rides to improve the endurance. Mallorca has 2 different tracks where you can train and improve different things.
Sofia is currently training under the direction of Andy Sparks in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Supported by the Mexican Cycling Federation and the National Sports Commission.
The training objectives are to improve power and endurance for individual events of the omnium. Training with Sarah Hammer and riders from Turkey and Ireland has made significant changes in Sofia as she has improved both her power and her endurance on the track. In the last Pan American Games in Guadalajara 2011, Sofi showed the progress when she won the silver medal.
First World: Astana
In Astana, as in all World Cups, you need to do a points race of 40 laps in order to qualify to the finals in the omnium, they have 2 heats and the best 12 of each heat get to ride the finals. Sofia was 4th in her qualifying heat, showing again her progress in her endurance.
The omnium started with 24 riders, all the best girls of the world were there only two big names were missing: Tara Whitten and Sarah Hammer they both decided to start their season in the 2nd World Cup in Cali.
Sofia was looking strong but performed poorly in the elimination race and finished 13th overall at the end.
2nd World Cup: Cali, Colombia
For this World Cup Andy and Sofi planned to do the scratch race in addition to the omnium. The scratch race is an official event in the World Championships but not in the Olympics, this is one of Sofia’s favorites events and she can perform really good in it as well.
You also need to do a qualification ride before riding the finals, 2 heats where only the first 10 of each heat can go to the finals. Sofia was second in her heat and was ready to give everything in the next race.
The final had 20 riders, the best riders in the world for sure. She was trying to control the race from start to finish and maybe worked too much, 4 riders went into the break away and she managed to win the bunch sprint to finish 5th place, this complies in part with the goal set by Andy for this World Cup.
The next day begins with the qualifying for the omnium. Sofia had to ride the heat with the best two riders of the specialty (World Champ Tara Whitten and multiple World Cup Champ Sarah Hammer) She managed to qualify and had a very regular start in the first event (250m flying lap). In the second event (points race) she finished in 5th place, Sofi improved her chances in the general classification and she was getting closer to the top 10 she wanted.
In the next event (elimination race), a race that is usually very complicated as every rider starts the race full gas because every 2 laps the last rider gets eliminated. The excitement of the riders as well as their desire to win caused several crashes, Sofi was involved in one of them. She hit the wall of the track injuring her back, right arm and finger and so had to end her participation in this World Cup.
Sofi is currently in 3rd place in the world ranking of the scratch race and she is looking forward to top that at the World Championships in Australia but her main focus is to make more points for the Olympics, she still wants to secure top 10 in the next two World Cups in Beijing and the Olympic test of London.
There are now four more races where she can collect Olympic points: the next two World Cups, the PanAm Champs and the World Champs it will be a hard and close fight between the riders because everyone is working harder than ever before to get there but we are sure that Sofia can achieve her goal and make her Olympic dream a reality in London.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been to Spain, trained hard and got way too nervous whilst watching some World Cup track racing in Colombia.
After choosing not to ride the track this winter, it’s been clear a long cold few months awaited me at home. So on being offered a week out in Majorca training I jumped at the chance! I was heading out to join my team mate Martyn Irvine – Ireland’s number 1 track rider and Olympic hopeful – who I spent the majority of 6 months last year training, travelling and competing with all over the world. I really enjoy the travelling involved with the sport and the chance to be in a foreign country is always something I look forward to. I wouldn’t have thought I’d look forward to it as much after visiting 3 continents last season, but every time I hear that I’m being flown off somewhere different I look forward to it a lot! After speaking with Martyn – who has been training with a small group of riders; Recep, Mutlu, Sofia and Sarah – I desperately missed the track scene. He had already been to Holland, Kazakhstan and Colorado Springs in the US! I don’t think it’s quite as exciting for him, as he has done it all before – and the fact he is not receiving the financial support he really needs! – but I still think it’s pretty cool. The week was spent doing the road training with the track guys and girls plus then doing a bit of extra training by myself. I would usually spend my evenings watching the guys fly round the track. I thoroughly enjoyed the week and would like to thank Andy Sparks for allowing me to come out.
Once home, the cold weather wasn’t particularly nice but was a lot warmer than I was used to for late November. I had now officially started my winter training and the new structure to my day was a great motivator. I was really enjoying going out for 4-5 hours on my own, listening to my iPod and just generally feel like I was working towards next season. With all the excitement of joining Rapha Condor Sharp and the prospect of a really good racing calendar, training was easy to do. It’s by far the most training I’ve done on the road, so looking forward to the benefits next season.
Another thought that has been in my head is that with the new racing calendar and the opportunity to race more; premier calendar, UCI 2.2 and 1.2 races is if the right results are achieved throughout the year then it is definitely possible for Rapha Condor Sharp to be the final bridge across to a top Protour team. So that will be my aim over the next 2-3 years riding with RCS. The opportunity to race these races, be able to race and learn from team mates who are some of the best riders in the UK and have the best support of any team I’ve ever been a part of, it really is down to me to work hard and improve so I and the rest of the team can achieve these results we need.
I think I’ve written enough to bore most people who are likely to read this so I’ll finish up with a quick section about the UCI Track World Cup in Cali, Colombia. It was my favourite World Cup and probably my favourite country I was lucky enough to visit last year. Luckily the guys I was supporting throughout the 4 day event did a lot better than I did when I competed in my first World Cup last year – I was 13th in the scratch race. On the first day Sarah Hammer picked up 3rd in the Women’s Team Pursuit, but from Sarah it’s always clear there’s more to come. This became true when she won the Women’s Omnium in dominant fashion – as always. Next up was Sofia Arreola in the scratch race, where she picked up another great result – after finishing 4th last year in Manchester – taking 5th in amongst a truly world class field. Last, but definitely not least was the turn of Martyn and Recep in the Men’s Omnium. Both comfortably made it through the qualifiers and then they showed the rest of the World how hard they’ve been working by taking 4th and 5th overall. Sofia was involved in a crash in the Women’s Omnium Elimination race which meant she wasn’t able to compete in the rest of the event but after taking 5th in the Scratch race the day before, it’s still a very successful World Cup for all of Andy Spark’s riders. The Olympic points Martyn picked up this round have moved him up to within 1 place of Olympic qualification. After missing 2 meets – 1 intentionally and 1 non intentionally after a crazy DSQ in the Astana round – it’s looking very very good for him!
I’ll leave it at that!