Two Female Cyclists To Watch
The news cycle rarely gives much time to cycling, and of that precious time even less is spent on the women who are revolutionizing the sport. The two beautiful cyclists talked about below have one thing in common, the ability to ride away from the expected and forge a new path as female professional cyclists!
Shelley Olds is definitely not old news! After graduating with her BS in Health and Human Performance from Roanoke College, while shining on the field as the captain of the soccer team, the now 33 year old started riding bikes. Though she only began racing back in 2005, success came swiftly for Olds. She went professional on the track just 2 years later. In 2008 Olds won the USA Cycling Elite Scratch race, a title she kept in 2009, but following the 2008 Olympics, the Massachusettsan focused more on the points race to punch her ticket to the 2012 Olympic Games. However, with the International Olympic Committee’s decision to remove the points event from the Games, the heart broken Olds turned her attention to the road.
Before her total move to the asphalt, she raced to second overall at the Nature Valley Grand Prix in 2009 and then transferred exclusively from then on. In 2010 she won a stage of the Giro Donne (The Giro di Italia for women), the overall at the Tour of New Zealand, as well as the Pan American Games Road Race. Alongside those stunning International Performances Olds also tacked on a 2010 Elite Criterium National Championship, a feat she duplicated in 2011. All of those successes brought her to her dream of riding in the Olympic Games in London. Here the feisty American made the selection into the 4 woman race winning break alongside other race favorites like Marianne Vos (Netherlands), Elizabeth Armitstead (United Kingdom), and Olga Zabelinskaya (Russia). Unfortunately, Olds flatted just 20 km from the finish and was relegated to sprint from the field to, a still impressive, 7th place. But don’t count the 33 year old out for Rio! Women have much longer careers than men, so Olds will definitely not be too old to challenge for that gold medal in 2016!
Another amazing female cyclist would have to be the British rider Lizzie Armistead! The 25 year old silver medalist at the 2012 Olympics got her start back in 2004 when the British Cycling’s Olympic Talent Team visited the Prince Henry Grammar School that Armistead attended. There, young Lizzie fell in love with the sport and found out that the sport loved her too! She graduated from the British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme and did exactly what the program was designed to do: win International and Olympic medals! In 2009 and 2010, Armistead won a total of 5 medals at the UCI World Track Championships (1 gold, 3 silver, and one bronze). But success on the track wasn’t enough for the young rider. She turned her attention more towards the road in 2011 and success wasn’t far off there, either. Armistead road to a silver medal in her home country’s, downright drenched, Olympic Road Race and that same year won races like Ghent-Wevelgem and Omloop van het Hageland. The following year, she won the British National Championship Road Race and scored several other solid podium results. This year the talented Brit won the Commonwealth Games Road Race, scored second in the cobbled Women’s Tour of Flanders, and received a bronze medal for her performance at her national road race.
Needless to say both women, Olds and Armistead, are impressive athletes! The two saw meteoric rises to success on the international level and as a result are getting the opportunity to live their dreams. Hopefully we will get to see them duke it out on the streets of Rio in just 2 short years!