Nancy caught up with her friend Sarah Hammer for a chat.
Sarah Hammer is an American cyclist from California, her dad (Cliff Hammer) introduced her to cycling when she was only 8 years old, she’s been racing since she was 12 and won her first National title in 1995.
After competing for many years Sarah retired from cycling in 2003 burned out from the rigors of competitive cycling, but in 2004 she found inspiration again in the Olympic Games of Athens, watching her old teammates and rivals competing at the highest level.
She came back to cycling to show the world what she was capable of; she has amazing discipline and a willingness to do things right, always looking for perfection.
It’s her personality along with the support of her coach (and husband) Andy Sparks that has lead Sarah to become World Champion 4 times, member of the United States Olympic Team in 2008 (where she finished 5th in the individual pursuit), winning multiple World Cups and breaking 2 World Records last year in the PanAm Champs (individual pursuit and team pursuit with compatriots Dotsie Bausch and Lauren Tamayo.)
[N] It was pretty impressive to watch you break the World Record in Aguascalientes last year, when you walked to the start line you had that look in your eyes saying that you were going for it. What did it mean to you? Where you targeting that when you went to Aguascalientes?
[S] Yes, when I decided to go down to Aguascalientes I went to try to break the Individual Pursuit Record. We knew it was a great opportunity in a race environment that doesn’t come by very often. The track was brand new, really beautifully built and at an altitude of around 6000 feet.
[N] It was also great to see Andy coaching you and cheering for you every step of the way, I know is a victory for the two of you. What is it like to have him as a coach?
[S] Yes, it’s great, he is my biggest supporter hands down. It’s such an amazing journey that we both have been a part of, and together every step of the way.
Sarah Hammer World Track Championships – ©Copyright Paul Sloper
[N] It’s no secret that you’re targeting the gold medal in London Olympics. How did your preparation change when the UCI removed the Individual Pursuit and put the Omnium in the Olympic program?
[S] Yes it was a pretty big blow to hear the news of the removal of the individual from the program. Although I have had some success with the new omnium I still believe that it was a total mistake to remove the individual pursuit. I am excited about the new Women’s Team Pursuit and I think that this is only going to make women’s cycling grow and get more depth.
[N] We all saw you winning almost every competition in the last track season; whatever you’re doing you’re definitely doing it right. What does it takes to be in top form for the omnium?
[S] A lot of hard work!! No, really I do a medley of different things in a week, from road rides to track and gym. Each time I’m on the track I’m working something specific for the omnium. So it does keep it fresh and new but some days I long for my pursuit bars!!
World Championships Apeldoorn – ©Copyright VeloImages
[N] You and Andy were based in Switzerland the past season and now you are based in Spain, it doesn’t matter where you’re based, you are always traveling for races or training camps. I know from experience that being away from home is very hard, especially when is a country with a different culture and language. What kind of impact does it have on your life? Do you ever get homesick?
[S] Absolutely I do get homesick sometimes. I miss my family and my puppies. I do keep in touch regularly with my parents each week on Skype so that’s good. The major positive is that I am here with my husband so that makes things a lot easier.
Sofi Arreola congratulating Sarah after Women’s 3000 Metre Individual Pursuit World Record ©Copyright Nancy Arreola
[N] What do you miss the most when you are away from home?
[S] I miss the food the most. I am a SoCal [Southern California] girl so I need my Mexican food!!
[N] What do you like to do when you have a break from racing, do you have a hobby?
[S] I love exploring new places and hiking, that sort of thing. I am a major book reader.
[N] What are your plans for the next season?
[S] Next season plans are to keep progressing by earning points in both the Omnium and the Team Pursuit. Try to win a world title next year in Melbourne and then hopefully get to stand on the podium in a years time in London.
[N] Can you give advice to other riders that are trying to succeed?
[S] Give your 100% commitment in training and racing. Whatever you‘re doing right now, do it 100%
[N] Thank you for your time Sarah, I think everyone is excited to see you racing again. You’re a great role model and an inspiration to many riders and I hope you have another extraordinary season towards the London Olympics and accomplish that dream of winning the gold medal!
Sarah & husband Andy – USA Olympic Team Beijing
To find more out about Sarah click here to go to her website.
To find out more about the USA Cycling Team click here.
Sarah’s major career results include:
– Four-time World Track Cycling Champion
– 2008 United States Olympic Team
– World Record Holder – 3 Kilometer Individual Pursuit (3.22.2)
– Ten Times World Cup Gold Medalist
– 20 National Championship Cycling Titles
Our thanks to Sarah and all the photographers.
©Copyright 2011 Nancy Arreola & Anna Magrath @ Cycling Shorts. Please do not reproduce any content without permission from either Nancy or Anna and the photographers.
Piacenza, Gippingen & Segovia
by Jody Cundy
Once I was back from Sydney, I had a few weeks of training to prepare for the next trip away, in which I would be racing 3 weekends back to back in Piacenza, Gippingen and Segovia. Training took a racing focus once I returned home, and I started to introduce some intensity in training, by adding a 10mile TT and crit race to my weekly sessions. This way, I could replicate the kind of riding I’d experienced in Sydney, and hopefully that would better prepare me for future road races.
Piacenza in Italy was the first stop of my little road trip and I was joined by Jon-Allan Butterworth to represent Para-T at the P1 event, the team’s first road race.
First up was a 58km 26lap crit around the town of Castel San Giovanni, and from the off, it was a fast race. With C4s and C5s racing at the same time, the attacks were going right from the first pedal stroke. Having learnt my lessons from Sydney, I tried to stay near the front of the race, and although a few went off the front I managed to stay in quite a select group of strong riders. I was feeling pretty good even though I was on my limit, but then, with a few mistimed accelerations and an increase in pace on the front the group started to get away. With a few laps on my own I was joined by a few riders who had been dropped earlier on and I worked with those guys until the end of the race. There was some confusion on the final lap of the race as the lead riders who’d broke away passed us on the start finish straight, effectively ending the race without our group sprinting for position, unfortunately I was pipped on the line and finished 7th. However, I was feeling good about my form and looking forward to the pan flat short 11km time trial the following the day. I managed to post a 14:26 which was good enough for 5th place and just 45seconds outside the winner Jiri Jezek. With my 5th place in the TT I managed to move up to 6th overall and score a few more valuable points for London.
Jody on the road - Image ©Copyright Christian Kelkel
After Piacenza it was a 6hr road transfer to the Black Forest where we were going to be based for the Gippingen P1 event. Although the race was in Switzerland, we based ourselves in Germany just across the border, as the roads to cycle on were perfect, offering 5 days of beautiful rides and some good rolling terrain. Gippingen started with a 16.2km TT around a hilly 8.1km loop. The first half of the loop went uphill, the middle was flat and then it went downhill to the finish. With the first lap done, I was feeling good about how things were going, and then my minuteman caught me at the foot of the climb for the 2nd lap. I wasn’t too fazed by this as he’d finished 2nd in the last 2 time trials I’d raced, so I knew he was strong. But going up the hill for the 2nd time, I lost all my momentum and it wasn’t until the flat section that I could find my rhythm again, by then the damage was done. I came across the line in 23.20, not a bad time but only good enough for 10th place.
The road race the following day was a tough affair and to be honest, I didn’t feature in the race at all. It was one of those days where my head and legs really didn’t want to do the same thing, and as we went up the 2nd part of the stepped 178m climb for the first time the race just rode away from me as I struggled to keep up, my legs really weren’t working well! I think 6 races in 13days might have been 1 too many for me, but I kept on and used the rest of the race as a training ride for the World Cup. I crossed the line in a lowly 17th place, one from last.
Segovia World Cup round 2
Jody - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
After the event in Gippingen I left my Para-T team to join the GB setup as we headed to Segovia.
The first 2 days of training we were greeted by torrential rain, but as the racing approached the weather picked up. First race up was the TT, a 21km race on a flat loop around the town of Valverde del Majano. It was going to be a quick race and I was hoping that the few easy days I’d had on the bike after the P1 events had been kind on my legs. Rolling down the start ramp and through the technical exit out of the town I quickly settled into a smooth fast rhythm and was relieved that my legs were feeling like mine again! With the long straight open roads the wind was going to play a big factor in the race, but with no real tailwind sections to speak of it was a tough ride. About half way through the 21km’s I had a bit of a disaster as my back went into spasm, and I could no longer maintain my aero position down on my ski’s of my TT bike, for the next 2minuntes or so I was struggling to hold my position while trying to release my back, all the time I could feel the seconds slipping away. Thankfully the pain and spasm subsided and I could get back to tiding the bike at speed. The last section of the race was the fastest as it made its way downhill into the town. I crossed the line in 28:06, not a bad time, but only good enough for 9thplace, at least it was a few more points in the bag.
￼The road race was 4 laps of a pretty boring 18.1km loop with the only interesting points being a small section on cobbles and a gentle rise after the start finish line for approx 2km. With the course being so flat I was feeling confident about my chances in the race, all I needed to do was stay upright and in the bunch. However with strong crosswinds on at least 12km of the course, positioning was going to be all important. As we raced through the first lap I was feeling good, my legs were feeling pretty good. Crossing the finish line the speed of the peloton increased as we went up the 2km rise, and with the 33°C heat searing down
I start I found myself struggling at the back of the bunch. Over the top of the rise I was about 50m off the back. Turning into the crosswind I put in a massive effort to get back on, eventually all the attacks failed to break clear, the bunch slowed enough for me to join again, however it wasn’t long until the attacks started again, and after the effort earlier I was spent, and watched the bunch drift off into the distance. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one, and after a few minutes of chasing the bunch it was clear that my chances of a bunch sprint had gone, but I was now joined by 3 other riders and we worked together to minimise the effects of the wind.
After doing our even share of working on the front, going into the last 3km I noticed there was a reluctance for anyone to come to the front. However as I knew the race was essentially over for me I was happy to lead into the last kilometre. Surprise surprise I was jumped by 2 of the riders I was with, I quickly accelerated onto their wheels, taking the last left hander I moved into 2nd, and waited to make my move, 250m to go and I got out of the saddle and applied my track speed and powered by. In the end I finished 50m clear of the riders I was with, if only I could have stayed in the peloton as I had the speed for the victory, especially as the race ended in a bunch sprint, instead I crossed the line in 14th, outside the important points.
With the Segovia World Cup done, I headed to Glasgow to do four stages in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain before getting back to my normal training programme and daily routine. Almost a little boring after all the travelling and racing this month, but it’s good to not live out of a bag or move hotel every week. Also it’s probably not for long, as there is more racing and exciting things to come.
Catch you soon,
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
19th April 2011
Hello everyone! Thank you for stopping by again!
I have been training like crazy! I’ve just come back from my team’s training camp in Italy and it was very hard! It was the first time that I met all my teammates and they are all great, we have a great atmosphere in the team, everyone is super friendly with a great attitude.
We are about to start the season this week in Belgium and some other riders have been racing since February so we did some intense training to get in shape for racing. Every ride we did included amazing climbs and we had to do efforts and sprints! The first days were hard but fun and at the end of the first week we were all super tired of the hard work out we’d done.
We were usually doing blocks, 3 days hard training and one easy day. Our first easy day was on Wednesday and we arrived on a Sunday, we went for a 2 hour ride (on a rest day!). The second rest day was on Saturday and we were all super tired so we took the day off and went to the beach to enjoy the sun and the amazing weather in Riccione.
Seriously, if you are thinking of a good place for a training camp you need to try this place. It has the most amazing climbs and the view when you are climbing is incredible! (not that I had a chance to enjoy it during the efforts tho…) the weather is amazing and I haven’t even mentioned the food yet, I think everyone loves Italian food as much as I do.
We were training with Jamie Burrow he is a former pro and was riding for US Postal with Lance Armstrong, it was great to train with him and learn from all the experience he has. He is super friendly and he was always giving us feedback and advising us oh how to become better riders, you can’t get that every day so we tried to learn from him as much as we could do in 2 weeks.
The first week of training was hard but the second week was even worse (at least for me) I got a bit sick and couldn’t do all the efforts in the rides but I still did all the distance, we were doing almost 4 hours every day which is pretty hard and if you include the efforts it makes it even harder and I guess I didn’t take care of myself as I should have and I was feeling a bit week.
The thing is that when you train that hard you need to take as much rest as possible, drink a lot of water and eat good for the next day but coming from such a different continent and not being used to the food and everything makes it a bit hard for me. Anyway… I was feeling better by Wednesday and we had to do some Team Time Trial efforts and I am happy I could be a part of it. We have this Team Time Trial in Luxemburg coming up so getting the training done was important!
After the 2 weeks we were all exhausted but happy with the training and the hours on the bike. Everyone was looking in better shape every day and I think the team is ready to start this season. I leave for Belgium tomorrow, I do two races this week and then some races in Luxemburg and I am very excited to see that everything is already happening. I’m looking forward to going back to Mexico in June for the National Championships, I think racing in Europe will give me loads of experience and confidence and I really hope I can get a good result there.
Will give you guys more updates after my first races!
500 Days to go!
by Jody Cundy
Can’t believe it, this coming Sunday when thousands of people will be running the London marathon, another milestone on the run in to the Paralympics rolls around, 500 days to go!
All of a sudden the Paralympics in London are becoming very real, and I couldn’t be more excited. With the world track championships all done and dusted for another year, it’s time to switch focus to the road, but not before hitting the track at the Good Friday meet, which for the first time in a few years won’t be rained off as it’s moved away from the outdoors of Herne Hill velodrome in London to the indoor velodrome, and my home track Manchester. The event is going to be the racing debut for the team I helped set up, and all our riders are down to ride, I can’t wait to pull on my skinsuit in the Para-T colours for the first time, and fingers crossed the couriers manage to deliver it in time! I’m going to be racing in the international sprint and keirin, which is a change from the normal track racing I do, which is usually me against the clock, but with others riders on the track elbow to elbow, it should be good fun.
Following the Good Friday meeting my road season really kicks off as I fly out to Sydney for the 1st round of the Paracycling road world cup series. I’m part of a small team of 8 riders heading down under aiming to score more essential points for the London qualification process. First up with have a 9- 10day training and acclimatisation camp in Wollongong, and then we head into Sydney and to the Eastern Creek raceway for a 75.6km road race, and then a few days later it’s a 24.8km technical (tight and twisty) time trial around the Sydney Olympic park in Homebush Bay.
Since the world championships I’ve had a very chilled few weeks and been busy with a few appearances. I returned to my home town to give an after dinner speech at the Rotary Club of Wisbech’s 74th Charter Night. I was also present in Salford Quays at the opening of the 2nd of 8 nationwide volunteer selection centres, where over 5000 people will be interviewed for an opportunity to volunteer at the London 2012 games.
As a team we had a day of meetings at the Celtic Manor in Newport Wales, a venue that we’ll be seeing more of in the future, as it will be our base for the holding camp into the London Paralympics. During our day of meetings we had chance to find out what was in store for the next 500 days and how the team was planning to take us forward. We also had an update about the now complete velodrome and the equipment that we’re developing for London, as well as a fitting session with Adidas ￼and Next who will be providing the sportswear and formal wear for the Paralympic team in London. With my new found endurance legs it turns out that in the quest for qualification points I’m going to be racing more than I ever have, so should be an exciting year. However we did hear some disappointing news, the UCI have decided for no apparent reason to change the rules for the Paracycling team sprint event, and have reduced the number of points a valid team can be comprised of. It’s an odd change of rules as the top 4 teams from the recent world championships are now deemed to be illegal under the new rules. As world champions we’ll never be able to ride all together in the world stripes we earned in Montichiari, and the WR we set will no longer be valid. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement and I have no idea why it happened, but the UCI are famous for this and we’ll just have to adapt our team and continue to challenge at the very top. However, I will enquire to find out why, as it seems like such a strange rule change at a particular sensitive time in a Paralympic cycle, and is bound to upset and disrupt many riders who were aiming to ride the team sprint in London.
Jody Cundy - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
Next week I will be at the Lee Valley White Water Rafting Park, for the official opening of the first Olympic venue that will be open to the general public prior to the games next year. It’s going to be a scary and exciting day as by the sound of it I’m in a raft with a bunch of others to test out the course, oh boy the things I have to do! I also have my rider review, where I’ll sit down with my coach and managers and discuss how the last 12months have gone, and how I can maximise my performance and make sure no stone is unturned on route to London.
Catch you all soon, with hopefully good news from down under.
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
Getting All Artistic
by Jody Cundy MBE
Well here I am on the eve of the World Championships here in Montichiari, I’ve had 3 sessions on the track since arriving here, and each one of them has been more and more encouraging. The track feels fast, and my legs feels good, I just hope that feeling lasts for the next 3 days as I have a lot of racing to do between now and Sunday evening. First up is the pursuit, the big unknown for me, sure I’ve done pursuits before, but this is the first time I’ve focused on it and trained with the goal of competing at a major championship, and with London [Olympics] just over a year away it will be an interesting test. After the pursuit I’m into more familiar territory with the kilo and team sprint both, of which I’m aiming to retain my world titles in.
In preparation for these worlds, as a team we’ve spent 2 weeks training on the boards of Newport velodrome, mainly to get away from the chaos and busy track in Manchester as the able-bodied team prepared for the world championships, but also to prepare together as a team. Over the 2 weeks in Newport my training covered all aspects of my racing with starts, pursuit and flying efforts and team sprint practice. During the 2nd week we had the trial for the team sprint, with 4 riders going for 3 places. Rik Waddon and Darren Kenny were competing for man 1, and myself and Terry Byrne were trialling to see who would ride 2nd and 3rd man. The trial was basically 2 full team sprints, and everything would be recorded and filmed so all elements of the ride could be analysed. First up was Darren, myself and Terry, this turned into a mission, as on the first try I picked up a puncture in turn 1, meaning an abandoned attempt, then sat on the start line for the re-run my helmet buckle fell off my aero helmet, so with my road helmet on it was 3rd time lucky! (Hope it’s not going to be like this at the worlds!) With a smooth start and equally smooth changes our benchmark was set. 60mins later we were up on track again, this time with Rik leading off and myself and Terry switching order. This time the trial went smoothly with another really good ride in the bag.
Amazingly both rides were inside the current WR, so things were looking up and it was nice knowing that we had world class backup rider no matter what team we’d go with. The following morning once the coaches had analyzed all the footage and crunched the numbers, the team sprint was selected, Darren Kenny man 1, Terry Byrne man 2 and myself man 3, a new team line up lets hope our debut goes well.
Also on the Newport camp I took part in a photo shoot with photographer Richard Booth, who is producing a coffee table book of London 2012 hopefuls. I’m looking forward to seeing the shots in print as the samples I saw a glimpse of looked amazing. Actually it’s been a month of photo shoots, as just before I left for the world championships I was invited by Sky Sports to take part in a shoot they were doing for their 20th Anniversary, again it was for another coffee table book, with all these books I’m not sure where my coffee’s going!
Once Newport was over it was back to the boards of Manchester, but not as a rider, entering a contest on Cycling Weekly’s facebook page I found myself the winner of 2 tickets to the Manchester leg of the World Cup. I had a great day, and was soaking up the home atmosphere, and imagining what it’s going to be like in London with twice the amount of people cheering that loud, London really is going to be something special, but lots of training to do before then!
Inspired by the world cup performances it was back to the boards of Manchester to put the finishing touches to our preparation and start the all important taper.
Outside of the cycling I’ve been busy working on my website, and after months of it being under ￼construction it’s actually finished and fully up and running, so go take a look www.jodycundy.com any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Prior to coming to Italy I ended up getting all artistic, with my prosthetic cycling leg. I’d had a few conversations with potential sponsors and it became clear that for some reason my disability on the bike wasn’t visible. I guess my black carbon leg was blending into my black carbon bike. Anyway a quick trip to Halfords and I had sand paper, primer, paint, and clear lacquer. Now I just needed a paint booth, as the weather was awful outside, so our shower room became a temporary booth and masked it all off making sure everything was covered! (Thanks Christina! Can’t believe she agreed to it!)
Anyway leg all keyed up it was primer time, what a transformation that made, the leg looked completely different with just the white primer on, I couldn’t wait to get onto the next level of paint, but patience was the key and I had to wait for it to dry completely. Good job I wasn’t on the track with it for a few days. Once the paint was dry it was time to give the leg some colour, with some world bands applied with trusty coloured electrical tape, I then spent the afternoon printing out transfers, before spending hours carefully applying them to the leg. A quick clear coat over the top and it was all finished. A bright white leg, carrying the world bands, finished off with my name, a Union Jack, my leg sponsors logo, and my final finishing touch, 7 gold medals for each of my World and Paralympic cycling titles, if all goes well it would be nice to add a few more! Check out the pics.
Jody's Leg - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
I have to say I’m looking forward to these championships, it’s seems like an eternity since I’ve raced at the very top level, and I can’t wait!
Also it will be the first time all the members of the Para-T team I helped set up will be together. The next time will be at out debut race, at the Good Friday track meeting in Manchester on April 22nd.
Well until next time, and stories from the world champs. Happy Cycling!
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
A Topsy Turvy Year
by Jody Cundy MBE
As 2010 comes to an end, it’s time to look back on what has been a bit of a strange year.
Starting in January with a “warm weather camp” on Majorca which ended up in snow, it was a sign of a topsy turvy year I was going to have.
By the time March came around, our World Championships in August had been cancelled and my training goals where turned on their head. In Easter my first proper race of the season: The Herne Hill Good Friday Meet. Unfortunately, once again the rain brought a swift end to the racing, but hopefully 2011 will be luckier as the meet moves indoors to Manchester. Without Worlds to prepare for, Ride Across Britain was a perfect chance to keep the miles and legs over the summer and also to help raise money for Paralympics GB. Sharing the mileage with tandem pilot Barney Storey, the nine days from John O’Groats to Land’s End were some of the most enjoyable days I’ve ever spent on my bike. Even though I was soaked to the bone for the first three days in Scotland, the scenery made up for all the wetness and pain. And by the time we reached Land’s End, the sun was shining and myself along 600 other cyclists had completed 1000 miles and raised over 300.000 Pounds!
With RAB done, it was back to the track and to prepare for the National Track Championships and a potentially rearranged World Championships. With all the miles on the road in the summer, my track legs really came to me and my training went really well. The Nationals were filled with highs and lows, the highs being my New World Record in the Flying 200m and my first able-bodied podium in the Men’s Team Sprint and Team Pursuit. The lows, becoming really ill after Day 3 and not being able to perform to how my training had been going and loosing out on an almost certain Gold medal in the Team Pursuit due to a crash.
October brought us final confirmation of the World Championships after many rumors and many cities had been mentioned. From March 11-13, the new velodrome in Montichiari in Italy will play host. My training is in full swing now and I am working hard on retaining my World Championship titles in the 1KM Time Trial and Team Sprint, and also hopefully getting close to the podium in a new event for me: the 4KM Pursuit. However, for the first time I wont be able to win the Kilo in a World Record time as it might hinder my changes to win in London due to the unconfirmed factoring rules that the UCI will be applying to the Paralympic Games in 2012.
All that leaves me to is to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year and thank all my sponsors and supporters for their help and hard work and I look forward to your continued backing on my path to 2012!
I think that’s all from me, enjoy the remaining days of 2010 and I’ll see you in 2011!
PS: You can catch me on BBC4 on December the 30th at 8pm as I made a guest appearance at the Royal Institute Christmas Lectures.
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel