Eri Yonamine is no stranger to the Japanese national champion’s jersey. The Osaka native has won the road and TT title an incredible combined total of 11 times since 2013, and has represented Japan in both the world championships and Olympics.
This year, Eri brings her talent, experience, and coffee expertise to Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome her aboard!
We chatted with Eri about her favorite racing memories, pre-race superstitions, and future goals.
Tell us a little about your background. How did you get involved with cycling?
My background is nothing special as an athlete. I played tennis from junior high school to university before cycling, but it was not highly competitive.
I started cycling when I was 20 years old. I didn’t enjoy playing tennis at university, so my uncle suggested I try cycling.
What do you love most about riding your bike?
Honestly, cycling professionally is not only fun, etc., but it also enhances my life. When I started cycling, I couldn’t imagine living in Europe and traveling around the world. Cycling has given me gave me lots of opportunities and experiences. I especially enjoy meeting nice people from all over the world.
Do you have a favorite race?
La Course is my most memorable race. It was my first year doing a full season in Europe, and I struggled the first half of the season. I was trying to be in good shape but always thinking, ‘why I can’t go well?’ I trusted myself and didn’t give up. La Course was the first race where I felt I could compete in Europe. (Eri finished 11th in the 2017 edition of La Course by the Tour de France.)
What is your favorite memory from your time as a pro cyclist?
I have lots of funny off-bike memories with teammates. One was the last race of the 2019 season in China. My roommate (Soraya Paladin, now with Liv) and I overslept on race day. We woke up by someone knocking on the door of our room. We had just five minutes before the team left the hotel. Other teammates picked up our breakfast and Soraya and I grabbed our backpacks and jumped onto the bus. We ate breakfast on the bus, completely panicked! But we started the race, and our teammate, Chloe Hosking, won! It’s a funny memory for us. I don’t oversleep anymore, promise.
What are some of the challenges you face on the road?
Living in Europe as pro cyclist is always challenging for me. Language, of course, culture, visa, food, contract, money. But this is my life. I can survive here thanks to the people surrounding me.
What are some your goals in the sport, as well as in life?
My short-term goal is to win a race in Europe, that would be amazing! My long-term goal would be to continue racing in Europe, and be selected for the next Olympics in 2024.
My personal goal is to have a cute doggie one day.
What superstitions/ routines do you have pre/postrace?
I like to tweet out the race information on Twitter, like the map, course profile, my bib number, etc. It’s my fun routine every race in the car before the race.
What’s a skill or something no one knows about you?
I don’t have any skills no one knows because I like to post my life on social media. I do have one thing, I have never ridden a track bike.
What advice would you give someone wanting to start cycling?
Just have fun and be safe!