Austria’s Ablinger wins again in Prudential RideLondon HandCycle Classic
Walter Ablinger continued a remarkable series of victories in the UK capital when he won the Prudential RideLondon HandCycle Classic on The Mall this morning 12 months after becoming the event’s first ever handcycle champion in last year’s criterium race.
The Austrian, who won Paralympic gold in London two years ago, today left the world’s best riders floundering in his wake as he sped over the 15-mile course from Kingston upon Thames to central London in less than 40 minutes.
“I’m so happy to win again because that was a tough race,” said the victorious Ablinger after crossing the line in 39 minutes 19 seconds. “After the Paralympics in London and the world championships, London seems to be a good place for me.”
“This is my third race here since the Paralympics and I’ve won them all. I wish I could race here every week. Perhaps I should emigrate here.”
A minute and a half behind the flying Austrian was Britain’s Brian Alldis, last year’s runner-up, who was forced to settle for second again when Ablinger opened an unbridgeable gap on a downhill stretch after eight miles.
“It was a long course and there were some tricky climbs, which I hadn’t expected,” said Ablinger, who arrived in rainy London from sunny Spain just one day before the race. “Brian and I worked together well in the first half, then I lost him going down hill and tried to do the last eight miles by myself.”
“I kept my speed high to the end and am really happy to win here again. I didn’t think I could go on my own, so it was a surprise to pull away.”
Alldis had trouble with rain on his racing glasses but held on to second after a sprint finish with Switzerland’s three-times Paralympic champion Heinz Frei.
“I’m a bit disappointed, to be honest, because I was planning to be on top of the podium this year,” said Alldis, who won this year’s Para-cycling World Cup.
“But with such a strong rider I have to happy with second. It’s no wonder he’s world champion in his class. He rode away from me so easily.”
“I will definitely do it again next year and go for top spot. Let’s hope it’s third time lucky.”
Fellow Briton Karen Darke was an emotional winner of the women’s race ahead of Switzerland’s Sandra Graf just a year after being involved in a career-threatening accident with a car.
Darke pulled away from the Paralympic and world champion around the 10-mile point and cruised under the finish gantry in The Mall in 45:52, 40 seconds ahead of her chaser.
“Two months before last year’s race I was hit by a car and I limped around the course wondering if I’d ever be able to race properly again.”
“It’s so lovely to be back and to be able to win in this way. I feel very lucky.”
“I’ve not been going that well in road races,” added Darke, who won Paralympic bronze at London 2012. “But this is a really good course with a few wicked hills. I’ve got the worlds in three weeks time so it gives me great confidence for those.”
“The rain today was no trouble at all. I live in Inverness, so this is nothing.”
Another Briton, Jennifer Browning, was third, nearly seven minutes behind Graf.
Classic Cycling Race Routes
The Toughest 52 European Challenges
by Chris Sidwells
Reviewed by Nick Dey
Published: 15th October 2013
AA Publishing in association with Garmin
An inspiring book to read and then to ride… if you dare!
This inspiring hardback book presents a selection of the most challenging and rewarding routes for road and racing cyclists. From the South Downs Epic and Tour of the Peak in the UK, to Paris-Roubaix in France and Tour of Flanders in Belgium, from Gruyere Cycling Tour in Switzerland and Tour of Lombardy in Italy to the San Sebastian Classic in Spain, this book is the ultimate motivation for cyclists who want to push themselves to the next level.
The fifty-two classic European cycling routes – one ride for each week of the year – selected to appear in this weighty A4 hard backed tome of well over two-hundred pages cater for the aspiring and experienced cyclist as well as those more romantically inclined, inspired as they are by the epic routes raced by the legends of the sport.
Experience an example… The Retro Ronde.The routes have derived their inspiration from the many professional races as well as the ever growing mass-participation events, the cyclosportives. Indeed the twenty-four routes that cover the UK and Ireland are exclusively ‘sportive in scope. I’m ashamed to report that I have ridden only one … but can vouch for the books accuracy; I was indeed Flat Out in the Fens! Several of the European events feature in the World Cycling Tour: an age group series in which participants have the chance to qualify for and compete in an age-group final. You, yes you, could become a World Champion!
Route 34, pp148-150, covers the outstanding Retro Ronde*
I rode this in 2013 and am happy to state without hyperbole that it is my absolute favourite cycling experience, second to none – full review coming soon to Cycling Shorts (Ed. I promise!)
Here I am… climbing ‘The Wall’ Retro Ronde 2013
In the book the route distance is correctly stated as 100 km (I managed 112 km but did get myself lost taking in a few extra Heligen!) but the total climbing was very different to my experience. The book states 525 m however I managed 1200 m. To be fair to the author the organisers fine tune their route each year – and I did do the extra cobbled climbs! All the other information is accurate and succeeds in conveying the flavour of the experience. For experience the Retro Ronde certainly is! I shall be back every year – or as long as the old bike, and even older legs will allow. If you do plan on riding try to make a long weekend of it. The ‘Crit’, ahem, racing on the Saturday is wholly authentic yet rather tongue in cheek, and well worth the entry fee of €5!
Posing for the official photo at the start… the atmosphere was the best I have experienced.
So how does this fine book present the information?
The book in a nutshell …
- 52 European cyclosportive and Grand Tour routes
- Full-colour route maps with directions and elevation profiles
- Advice on ride strategies and techniques
- Tips on training, appropriate clothing, nutrition and fitness
- All routes are available to download for your GPS cycling computer
- Routes cover the UK & Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.
The author suggests the reader takes two possible approaches, both of which allow them to make full use of the route information. The first, and Sidwells strongly suggests this as the most preferable avenue, is to take part in the official event for each route (if there is one) as, and I can only concur with him in this respect, …
“…the atmosphere and camaraderie of these events, where thousands of like-minded souls take part, all enjoying doing something they love, is incredible.”
Additionally, there is also more than enough information within the book to allow you to ride each route, or your own variation of it, independently of the official event and at any time of year. Words to the wise… check before you leave that roads are open!
Each route is clearly described and supported with often fascinating background information along with tantalising titbits of history; and who amongst us hasn’t unleashed the inner child and ridden a classic imagining the spectres of the greats; Coppi, Bobbet, Garin, et al, riding alongside?
There are maps and directions for each route, including profiles that clearly indicate where each hill is located along with rather useful yet often unsettling detail on how long and steep they are! The ever useful height gain is also presented.
In the words of the author, Chris Sidwells, “Enjoy the book, use it for planning and setting objectives, but above all get out and ride these routes. They represent some of the finest cycling experiences you could ever have.”
Classic Cycling Routes in a little more detail …
The introduction is extensive and covers three very important pre-ride requisites: Basic equipment – your bike, creating a training plan, and challenge-ride nutrition. There is a lot of very useful information here ranging from how to best use a GPS device (by Garmin) to the basics of creating a training plan.
The two-hundred pages devoted to the fifty two Race Routes traverse Europe through seven countries but with the majority set in the UK and Ireland.
The UK & Ireland section contains twenty-four routes, as listed below:
The Fred Whitton Challenge
The Ryedale Rumble
Etape du Dales
The Cheshire Cat
Tour of the Peak
The Shropshire Mynd
Flat Out in the Fens
Hell of the North Cotswolds
The Ups and Downs
The New Forest Epic
The South Downs Epic
The Tour of Wessex
The Exmoor Beast
The Dartmore Classic
The Dragon Ride
The Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive
Tour of Sligo
Malin to Mizen
Megève Mont Blanc
Cinglés du Ventoux
Etape du Tour 2010
Tour of Flanders
Grand Fondo Eddy Merckx
The Amstell Gold Race
Gruyére Cycling Tour
Alpenbrevet Platinum Tour
Tour of Lombardy
A Stage of the Tour of Italy
La Leggendaria Charly Gaul
Maratona dles Dolomites
La Pinarello Cycling Marathon
San Sebastian Classic
Val d’Aran Cycling Tour
A Stage of the Vuelta
La Pico del Veleta
Don’t forget… all routes in this book can be downloaded to your Garmin (the Edge 800 in my case) from the AA website.
As the book itself says, ‘the classic race routes selected here are not for the faint-hearted. Based on the best cyclosportive events in Europe and on stages of Grand Tours, they are much more than just pretty rides in the country. The fifty-two routes are serious mental and physical challenges (in the case of the Retro Ronde… the liver is called upon to do its bit too!) that require training and preparation. Yet each is accessible and achieved by many thousands of amateur cyclists each year.
Classic Cycling Race Routes allows you to cycle these rides at any time, either as preparation for the race events, or for the sheer joy and exhilaration of the challenge. For those rides that don’t have a dedicated cyclosportive route, the author has designed a ride a ride to reflect the demands and history of the race.
Each route contains a map with directions and an elevations and an elevation profile, and Chris Sidwells provides an overview combining ride strategy and techniques with the history of the race.
Practical and aspirational, Classic Cycling Race Routes will inspire a new generation of cyclists to push themselves to the extreme. You never know, the next Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish or Sir Bradley Wiggins may well be among them!
One for the rider as well as the reader + GPS routes = 100% Awarded our Star Buy Rating!
Reviewed by: Nichiless ‘Nicky’ Dey.
About the author
Chris Sidwells is an internationally-respected British cycling journalist and author, with nine books on cycling, ranging from biography through fitness and training to bike repair. His Complete Bike Book has been translated into twenty-four languages, and his Bike Repair Manual is about to reach its fifth edition. Tour Climbs and Race for Madmen were best sellers in their genre. His ‘The Official Tour de France Records’ has the backing of Le Tour Itself. Most recently he has published The Long Race for Glory: How the British Came to Rule the Cycling World… the next book to be reviewed on Cycling Shorts. Chris’s words and photographs have graced the pages of Britain’s best-selling cycling magazine Cycling Weekly (indeed he seems to appear in every issue,) and in all issues of Cycle Sport and Cycling Active, along with Cycling Fitness. He has also been published in Men’s Fitness, Cycling Plus, GQ, Running Fitness and the Sunday Times. Phew!
SCCU Good Friday Meeting
Herne Hill Velodrome, Burbage Road, SE24 9HE : 29 March 2013
Marcel Kalz at Good Friday picture ©Paul Wright
Top International riders competing at the historic Good Friday meeting this year are Sprinter Robert Forstemann, Six Day riders Christian Grasmann, Marcel Kalz, Leif Lampater, Nico Hesslich (all Germany) & Manuel Cazzaro (Italy).
Andy Tennant (Madison Genesis) is the leading British rider supported by Dominic Jelfs.
Team Raleigh have a strong presence with Evan Oliphant, Tom Scully and Sam Witmitz. Peter Mitchell, winner of the Open Sprint for the last two years is hoping to make it three in a row.
Live commentary will be provided by David Harmon. Paralympic stars Jody Cundy and Jon-Allan Butterworth are also competing and newly crowned World Sprint and World Keirin Champion Becky James will be making a guest appearance, but will not be racing on this occasion.
The Triumph Thunderbird motorbikes will again take to the track. Two British riders, James Holland-Leader and Symon Lewis will compete against riders from Holland, Belgium, France and Germany in the seven man 40 laps Motor paced race.
There are five races for women this year; women’s specific are the Sprint, Keirin and Scratch, and women will take on the men in the 5 Mile and Devil.
The usual SCCU Good Friday favourite races include the White Hope Sprint for up and coming riders, the International Open Sprint with top riders from home and abroad and the Meeting will end with the now classic Golden Wheel 20 k scratch, which boasts a fantastic £1000 for the winner and a further £1000 for the runners up. Last year’s winner, Marcel Kalz from Germany is returning to defend his trophy against a 125 strong field.
Apart from the usual ‘cycle jumble’ stalls there will be Bike Bling and bike related stalls around the Velodrome, plus a Real Ale Bar, proper coffee and hot food outlets. Gates open at 9.30 for spectators. Preliminary races start at 10.30 and the Finals start at 1pm, all being well it should be done by 5.30.
Good Friday By Numbers:
11: The number of countries that riders come from this year (France, Belgium, GB, Holland, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Finland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia),
22: The number of women competing in 2013
57: Hotel beds booked for the Meeting
148: The number of riders in this year’s Meeting
£675: Total Prize money for the Womens events
£1000: First prize for the Golden Wheel 20k Scratch
1903: Year the first meeting was held
£4610: Total Prize money for the Meeting
Admission is £12 for adults, £6 for 12-16s and free for under 12s. Tickets can be purchased in advance via the website or on the day. There is no onsite car parking for spectators; please arrive by train to Herne Hill station (8 minutes walk) or bike, as there will be plenty of bike parking. Spectators needing disabled parking should contact the organisers in advance.
Further information can be found at: www.bristowevents.co.uk/GoodFriday.html
Men’s Team Pursuit
GOLD – Denmark (FOLSACH, HANSEN, NIELSEN, QUAADE) – 4:01.289
SILVER – Germany (BEYER, BOMMEL, REINHARDT, THIELE) – OVL
BRONZE – Belgium (DE KETELE, DE BUYST, DE PAUW, VAN HOECKE) – 4:06.951
Denmark took GOLD in the Men’s Team Pursuit Final, beating Germany convincingly to win the first gold medal of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup Glasgow. Germany lost two riders which gave Denmark the chance to catch their opponents finishing with a time of 4:01.289.
Spain and Belgium faced each other in the bronze medal shoot out on the track, both evenly matched. Spain was the first team to make a mistake as Spain went down to three riders, giving Belgium an immediate advantage. Spain never recovered from their error, resulting in Belgium taking the bronze medal with a time of 4.06.951.
The big shock of the day came in the qualifying when the relatively inexperienced Great Britain team crashed out earlier in the day, with Owain Doull the only rider to stay on his bike as Sam Harrison, Joe Kelly and World Champion Andrew Tennant crashed onto the boards.
World Cup standings after 2 round:
- Belgium (15 points)
- Switzerland (14 points)
- Denmark (12 points)
Women’s Team Sprint
GOLD – Great Britain (VARNISH, JAMES) – 33.428
SILVER – Spain (CALVO BARBERO, CASAS ROIGE) – 34.102
BRONZE – France (CLAIR, MONTAUBAN) – 34.197
Jess VARNISH and Becky JAMES won Great Britain’s first gold medal of the competition, riding a great race to take gold against Spain in a time of 33.428. James replaced the retired Victoria PENDLETON and she and Varnish brought the packed Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome crowd to their feet with a fine ride. This was the second World Cup win for the pair who took gold in the first round in Cali last month and are already proving themselves on the road to Rio 2016.
The bronze medal race saw France and Russia go head-to-head. The race was tipped to be close but France edged out Russia for the medal with a fine performance on track.
World Cup standings after 2 round:
- Great Britain (24 points)
- Japan (13 points)
- Spain (10 points)
Women’s Team Pursuit
GOLD – Great Britain (TROTT, BARKER, KING) – 3:21.043
SILVER – Australia (ANKUDINOFF, CURE, HOSKINS) – 3:22.026
BRONZE – Belarus (SHARAKOVA, DYLKO, PAPKO) – 3:25.737
The two big rivals went head to head in the Women’s team pursuit. The race was a closely fought in the early stages but Great Britain started to pull away at the later stages, gaining a narrow lead over their rivals. The Great Britain trio featured two of the Olympic gold medal winning squad in Laura Trott and Dani King alongside British Cycling Olympic Academy Programme rider 18 year old Elinor Barker.
In the bronze medal race Lithuania always had a lot of work to do if they hoped to beat Belarus. The pattern was set early with Belarus starting well and leaving too big a gap to the Lithuanians to close. Belarus took the bronze medal and lead the standings after two rounds of the series.
World Cup standings after 2 round:
- Belarus (15 points)
- Great Britain (12 points)
- Italy (12 points)
Men’s Team Sprint
GOLD – Germany (ENDERS, FOERSTEMANN, BOETTICHER) – 43.887
SILVER – Great Britain (HINDES, KENNY, CLANCY) – 44.175
BRONZE – France (PALMA, SIREAU, LAFARGUE) – 44.803
Germany won Gold in the Men’s Team Sprint, beating Great Britain in the final. Germany’s performance was just too good for the Olympic Champions who took silver in Ed Clancy’s first race since making the transition from endurance to sprint to fill the place of Sir Chris Hoy’s in the new-look team.
Bronze medal went to France who beat Poland.
World Cup standings after 2 round:
- Germany (24 points)
- Japan (12 points)
- Russia (12 points)
Women’s 500m TT
GOLD – Belarus (PANARINA) – 34.121
SILVER – Germany (VOGEL) – 34.318
BRONZE – Spain (CALVO BARBERO) – 34.451
The Women’s 500m Time Trial race saw Olga PANARINA take gold with Germany’s Kristina VOGEL taking silver and Spain’s Tania CALVO BARBERO taking bronze. Fresh from winning gold in the Team Sprint Great Britain’s Jess Varnish took to the track again, this time finishing 6th.
World Cup standings after 2 round:
- Belarus (12 points)
- Germany (10 points)
- Spain (8 points)
Men’s Scratch Race
GOLD – Switzerland (MARGUET, Tristan)
SILVER – Ireland (IRVINE, Martyn)
BRONZE – Netherlands (EEFTING, Roy)
The race saw a lot of movement in the initial stages with a number of break-out groups through the race. With 23 laps to go, the group came back together with nobody able to get a decent amount of daylight between themselves and the main pack. No one seemed able to make that move that would separate themselves from the pack. Great Britain’s Simon YATES was involved in a number of attempted break away packs. With 15 laps to go another breakout group tried to break away from the peloton but in the end it came down to a sprint which was won by Tristan MARGUET from Switzerland. Martyn IRVINE from Ireland was hugely committed through the entire race and was rewarded with silver. In the bronze medal place was Roy Eefting of the Netherlands.
Omnium I – Flying Lap
Rank 1 Germany (LISS) – 13.252
Rank 2 Switzerland (BEER) – 13.349
Rank 3 Australia (O’SHEA) – 13.354
Omnium II – Points Race 30km
Rank 1 Australia (O’SHEA)
Rank 2 France (BRISSE)
Rank 3 Netherlands (VELDT)
Omnium III – Elimination Race
Rank 1 Spain (ELORRIAGA ZUBIAUR)
Rank 2 Australia (O’SHEA)
Rank 3 Czech Republic (RYBIN)
Overall standings after 3 events
Rank 1 Spain (ELORRIAGA ZUBIAUR)
Rank 2 Germany (LISS)
Rank 3 Switzerland (BEER)
The crowd were treated to some great action during the first three of six Omnium events on Day 1 of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup Glasgow.
Germany’s Lucas Liss drew first blood, posting the fastest time (13.252) in the Flying Lap. Next up was the 30km Points Race which was won by current World Champion Glenn O’Shea of Australia. O’Shea narrowly missed out on a second win as he was outsprinted by Spain’s Unai ELORRIAGA ZUBIAUR on the final lap of the Elimination Race.
ELORRIAGA ZUBIAUR, who now leads the Omnium at the midway stage. The German, LISS, is in second overall with BEER in third. Great Britain’s Jon Dibben lies in 11thoverall.
BBC Broadcast Times
- Saturday 17 November:
- Sunday 18 November
Sofi & Nancy
My Sister Sofi
by Nancy Arreola
Sofi and her papa Rolando in Apeldoorn for the World Championships
Sofi Arreola is a young successful rider from Mexico (she also happens to be my sister) and she’s aiming for a place to ride for her country at the London Olympic Games in 2012.
Sofi has won 6 gold medals in the Jr. PanAm champs, 4th place in the Junior Worlds in Moscow 2009 and she’s finished within the top 10 in almost every Track World Cup she’s competed in. She was invited to the World Cycling Center in Switzerland for the 2009-2010 track season and that changed her life. Her results as a Jr. were really good but it wasn’t until she met her new coach Andy Sparks that she started to look at cycling in a different way.
Not everything has been easy for her, she’s had to fight for everything… including her own life. Sofi was a premature baby and she almost didn’t survive. The doctors told dad that he should be prepared for the worst because it was very possible that she wouldn’t survive the night, but she fought and she won that battle. She was getting 15% less oxygen than other babies for one and a half months and she was so tiny.
We had to take lots of care with her because she was always getting sick (I have to admit… I was SUPER jealous because she was getting all the attention from my parents). She used to be allergic to everything so she had to go to the hospital once a month to get 30 injections in her tiny little arms. I could see in her face she was in so much pain but she never cried or complained about it; 3 years old and she was so tough! She wasn’t 100% healthy but my little sister was never weak. She has been giving me life lessons since the minute she was born.
Sofi & Nancy
Life goes on…
Our younger sister Chely and I are really hyper so my parents introduced us to sports at a very young age. Chely is 2 years younger than Sofia but she was just as big as her and beating her in every sport they tried! I bet she can’t say that anymore though… haha!
When I started cycling both my sisters were doing speed skating and they were really having fun with the sport but after one year they took part in a local bike race and they instantly fell in love with cycling, just as I did.
Sofi did the State Championships two weeks after that but she didn’t qualify for the Nationals so she made it her personal goal to win it the following year, she worked harder than anyone else, never missed a single practice and she was really serious about eating well and taking her recovery to a whole new level. It was impressive to see a 13 year old girl behave like that.
Sofi at Apeldoorn - Image ©Copyright Anton Vos
The next year she won everything in the State Championships and got 2 silver medals in the Nationals, since then she’s won almost every competition she’s entered in Mexico. The first time my sister ever rode on the track she won the Scratch Race in the elite category when she was only 14 beating Nancy Contreras (former 500m World Champ) and yeees… she beat me as well but let’s forget about that part!
Sofi & Rolando (Papa) in Puerto Rico
Arreola Family LtoR: Rolando (Dad), Sofi, Chely, Nancy (Mum) and Nancy
She’s had many good results in her short career but also had her ups and downs. In her first Jr. World Champs she crashed in her opening event and was forced to use a wheelchair because she couldn’t walk, but even that didn’t stop her from doing the road race and TT.
She also crashed in the Central American Games last year in Puerto Rico. She was knocked out but the first thing Sofi said when she gained consciousness was “where’s my bike?!” she finished the race concussed and went straight to the hospital not knowing where she was. All her efforts that day gained her a bronze medal for Mexico, a bronze with a good taste of gold.
I’ve seen her do an Omnium going from the ambulance to the track and then back to the ambulance again because she was really sick and even then winning 4 out of 6 events (it was an important race because it would decide who was going to the track world cups to represent Mexico). The Olympic dream has been in her head since she was a little kid and it’s that determination and desire that leads her to keep fighting.
Even with those chaotic races she’s had good results on her way to London, she finished 2nd in the elite PanAms [Pan-American’s] last year and 4th in the Scratch Race at Manchester’s World Cup, putting her in 2nd place in the world rankings but eventually she finished 4th at the end of the track season.
Of course Sofi and I have the support of our whole family. My dad Rolando goes to almost every World Cup with her and when we’re in Mexico he follows us both to every single ride providing all the support while training; my mum Nancy is the one who makes sure that Sofi has everything she needs. Mum calls the FMC [Federación Mexicana de Ciclismo] almost every day, books her tickets to World Cups and she also makes sure that she has all the right equipment to train and race. Chely and myself are her biggest supporters!
Sofi with her coach Andy Sparks
But I think the main thing that has made the biggest impact on her career is training with Andy Sparks, she was training with him when she was in Switzerland and now she’s followed him to Mallorca where they are now both based.
Andy is an amazing coach and they get along really well. She has a lot of respect for him and follows everything he says 100%. Since she’s been training with him we’ve seen her gain more confidence in her skills and has a better attitude while racing. Andy gives her the right motivation and the perfect training to be at her best in every competition.
Sofi knows that nothing is impossible if you work hard for it and you give your best at all times. The fact that she gets to train with Sarah Hammer is also a major boost for her, Sarah is her role model and inspires Sofi to become better every day. Sarah and Andy have been an amazing support for her when she’s away from home, even when she’s missing family, home and friends she’s surrounded by great people in an amazing environment and we know she’s happy even though we all miss her.
She had a complicated season last year but has pulled herself together and focused on doing things right and hopefully she’ll qualify for the London Olympics and achieve a good result. She’s taking it a step at a time, the next track season will be crucial for Sofi, as it will be for many other riders across the world, in order to qualify for London she needs to get good results in the 4 World Cups and the World Championships in Australia. It’s going to be a fun season; I am excited to see how it goes!
Sofi & Nancy - Sisterly rivalry while training - Mexico - March 2011
Thank you very much for reading and I’ll be giving you more updates about the World Cups and who has a chance of getting to ride in London 2012 via my articles here at Cycling Shorts!
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.