The colours of a new team grace women’s road cycling this year with the arrival of the WCC Team onto the circuit.
The UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC), a training and education centre recognised by the International Olympic Committee, welcomes around 100 athletes a year to Aigle, in Switzerland, to train in cycling’s different Olympic disciplines.
In 2019, a group of the Centre’s women trainees form the new WCC Team. Six of the team members – from Paraguay, Eritrea, Argentina, Belarus, Ethiopia and Trinidad & Tobago - were already UCI WCC trainees last year, while two other women – from Switzerland and Ireland – have been selected to support the young WCC riders.
After a two-week training camp in Calpe, Spain, in February, they made their racing debut as a team on March 2 at the first Flanders Classic of the season, the Omloop Het Nieuwlsblad – vrouwen elite. Their second race in Belgium, the Danilith Nokere Koerse voor Dames on March 20, saw Trinidad & Tobago’s Teniel Campbell finish 5th in the bunch sprint, earning her 50 points and propelling her up 72 places in the UCI World Rankings.
Forming the team is a logical step in the development of the young athletes, according to the UCI WCC’s Head of Performance and Education Belinda Tarling: “They can now compete in races of a higher level where they face some of the best riders in the world. Exposure to this level of racing is essential if they envisage a professional career.”
Her remarks are backed up by the UCI WCC Team’s Sports Director Adam Szabó: “Teniel could have won the sprint in Belgium if she had done more of this kind of racing,” he observed. “The team will be gaining that experience throughout the year.
“They are easily strong enough to race in the UCI Women’s WorldTour but don’t yet have the knowledge, tactics or ability to read the race. They struggle to find their position in the international peloton. Racing for the WCC Team will develop the riders, give them a chance to show their potential and prepare them to become professionals.”
With a master’s degree specialising in cycling coaching from the Faculty of Physical Education and Sports of Commenius University, Bratislava, Adam Szabó continued his training at the UCI World Cycling Centre, obtaining the UCI Coach Diploma in 2013 and the Sport Director certificate in 2014. He has since worked for the Slovak Cycling Federation and various UCI Continental Teams as coach and Sport Director.
“This is my first time working with a women’s team and that is a huge motivation for me,” he said. “Women’s cycling is getting really big and it’s great to be part of that.”
Next week, the WCC Team will be looking to confirm last year’s successful Princess Maha Chackri Sirindhorn's Cup “Women's Tour of Thailand" where they finished third in the teams ranking and had a stage win thanks to Vietnam’s Nguyen Thị Thật, who this year rides for Lotto-Soudal Ladies.
The WCC Team will then return to Europe, where the next main goals will be two stage races in May: Luxembourg’s Festival Elsy Jacobs 2.1 and the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas in Spain. The UCI Women’s WorldTour event Ovo Energy Women’s Tour (GBR) in June will be a highlight of the season along with the Grand Prix de Plumelec-Morbihan Dames (France) and the first edition of the Women’s Tour of Scotland.
Adam Szabó is looking forward to helping the team develop throughout the season: “We have sprinters, pure climbers and all-rounders. Before each race we set up a tactic and I try to give each rider a specific job or target. They are great to work with… a fantastic group of positive, happy people. Their happiness is one of their strengths.”
The team’s training blocks are carried out in Aigle, Switzerland, where all UCI WCC trainees from cycling’s Olympic disciplines benefit from full board, professional coaching, physiotherapy support and continued scientific monitoring thanks to the centre’s testing laboratory.
Agua Marina Espinola Salinas (PAR)
Desiet Kidane Tekeste (ERI)
Fernanda Yapura Plaza (ARG)
Anastasiya Kolesava (BLR)
Eyeru Tesfoam Gebru (ETH)
Teniel Victoria Campbell (TTO)
Marlen Reusser (SUI)
Alice Louise Sharpe (IRL)