CANYON//SRAM Generation will have its first-ever races this weekend in the cities of Tomelloso and Ciudad Real in the Ciudad Real province of Spain.
On Saturday 12 March, the team will race the 79km Il Liga Interautonomica De Féminas, followed by I Trofeo Dulcinea over 75km on Sunday 13 March. The team’s roster for the weekend races will be Agua Marina Espinola Salinas, Alia Mansor, Valentine Nzayisenga and Llori Sharpe. The first races mark an important moment for the newly founded Women’s Continental Team.
“This weekend is the first step for the team to start racing together and we aim to use it as a starting point. We want the team to learn and experience as much as possible and then we can progress step by step,” says CANYON//SRAM Racing Generation’s Sport Director, Adam Szabo.
Both races are part of the Interautonomica Women’s League which kicks off this weekend. The series is aimed at promoting women’s cycling in the central peninsular area and offering an attractive calendar of races. The three-race league in 2021 has grown to seven races in 2022.
Il Liga Interautonomica De Féminas is three laps of a circuit that includes a small climb and 5.9km gravel road each lap around Tomelloso. A fast race is anticipated on the relatively flat course with just over 370m of elevation for the 79km distance. On Sunday, the four-lap circuit includes a 1km long steep pinch of 6% each time as the peloton races through the Alarcos Archaeological Park outside Ciudad Real.
For Agua Marina, the weekend signals a welcome start to racing. “I’m really excited for the weekend and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do as a team.”
“Our training has been really consistent across the first two team training camps and afterwards in Girona. We are still building the form towards the important races later in the season, but we’re already in quite good shape now which gives us all some confidence,” describes Agua Marina.
“The two races have a fast circuit, depending on the wind. I’m expecting a lot of attacks on both days and we will have to play our cards wisely. I’m recovering from being sick for a few days but I still have a couple more days before needing to race and will be feeling stronger again. I’m definitely motivated for the weekend ahead.”
Agua Marina continues, “I think it’s difficult to really have an expectation. I hope that we can work together and race smart. This would be an important first step in our races together.”
While Agua Marina already has experience racing in Europe, and Valentine raced at the 2021 Road World Championships in Belgium, it will be the first race for Llori and Alia who admit they have a natural mix of nerves and excitement.
“I feel a whirlwind of emotions honestly. I’m extremely nervous but so, so excited to get my first race underway. I don’t know what to expect for this race or the season in general, but I do know that I’ll give it my all,” says Llori.
“I’ve got in some good training sessions during and after the two team training camps that I think have put me in a better competitive position. Given the courses, I expect the races will be very fast and you’ll for sure see teams with more numbers bring different strategies and tactics. A lot of that can change during the race, so we just need to focus on reading the peloton and play our cards right to secure a good outcome.”
“As the season opener, I’d be happy with finishing the race having given my all. It’s our debut as a team and we aim to work together. It will be a good starting point where we can learn from this experience going forward and see what we can improve upon as the season progresses.”
Alia adds, “It’s my first ever race in Europe! I want to finish the race with a good experience of what it’s like. Then, each race after I can aim for a better result. It’s more about learning and experiencing and soaking it all in. I will use the experience as a guide to how I can reach the next level. I also hope that I can help my teammates as much as possible.”
From a predominantly track racing background, Alia has enjoyed a different pre-season training since joining CANYON//SRAM Generation. “My preparation this year is very different because I’m now with a professional road team. I think I have prepared well so far with enough training and recovery and I’m ready for the first races. I’m very excited!”
Valentine joined her teammates for the first time this week and says she is looking forward to racing. “I am ready for this opportunity and to have some fun.”
Ricarda Bauernfeind and Antonia Niedermaier won’t start due to existing university and study commitments, while teammates Fatima Deborah Conteh and Olivia Shililifa will join the team in Europe in the coming weeks.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Il Liga Interautonomica De Féminas women’s race over 79km starts at 11:30CET on Saturday 12 March. I Trofeo Dulcinea over 75km starts at 11:30CET on Sunday 13 March. In both races, the women’s U23 and women’s elite categories race together. Race updates can be followed on Twitter with @fem_liga and #LigaCiclismoFem22.