American Shelley Olds (AA Drink/Leontien) made a clear statement today at the Giro Donne when she outsprinted some of the top riders in the world – not only is she going to be ready for the 2012 Olympic Games but she needs to be taken seriously as a medal contender.
“This victory is most certainly in the top three of most beautiful wins of my career. I am just over the moon,” Olds said.
When Olds saw that her attempts to get into a break weren’t working, she settled in after 50 km and focused on the final sprint. With her teammates guiding her in the finale, the perfect wheel to follow was found. That wheel was Marianne Vos (Stichting Rabobank).
She didn’t just outsprint Vos but some of the best riders in the world such as current world champion Giorgia Bronzini (Diadora Pasta Zara), Monia Baccaille (MCipollini Giambenini), Judith Arndt (GreenEdge AIS) and Emma Johansson (Hitec Products Mistral Home) to claim her second win at the Italian race – her first was in 2010.
“It’s one of the most prestigious races in the world for women because it’s so difficult and it’s so well organized, it brings in the best riders from around the world.” Olds told tuttobiciweb about her victories.
But more importantly, it’s a sign that everything is coming together. “And it’s also very important because it’s a preparation for the Olympic Games and I’m here to practice my sprint. And today to get a victory is really good for my confidence going into the Olympics in London.”
The Olympic Games have been a goal for Olds from the start of her racing career in 2007. Track racing was her first focus to get to the games though she also raced on the road. Olds moved quickly up through the ranks competing at track World Cups in 2009 and also winning two stages and the overall at the Tulsa Tough and finishing on the podium at the Liberty Classic that same year.
After the points race was removed from the Games, Old channeled her energy and efforts onto the road. And it showed in 2010 where she had her breakthrough on the international scene, winning the overall at the Tour of New Zealand, the Pan American Championships road race and the stage at the Giro Donne. She also fought to win the overall at the Nature Valley Grand Prix.
The following year was difficult for Olds with multiple crashes. She did returned to the United States to defend at Nature Valley Grand Prix but once again, another violent crash took her out of the race. However a few weeks later, Olds did win her second consecutive USA national criterium championship in 2011.
2012 brought a new squad, the Dutch AA Drink/Leontien Cycling team with top 5 results early in the season but then a broken wrist stopped everything and jeopardized her dream. On her second race back after her injury, Olds clinched the deal by winning the Tour of Chongming Island World Cup.
Following her nomination to the USA Olympic team in mid June,, Olds wrote, “As a female cyclist, my ultimate goal is to represent my country in the Olympic Games. For me, this has always symbolized the peak athletic experience. As a child, and now as an adult, I am most moved by the athletes who compete in the Olympics. Watching them perform evokes something in me that is unparalleled by any other life experience. I can feel what they feel when I watch them and it makes me smile, shiver with goosebumps, clap when I am all alone, and laugh until I cry. It is because I know the peaks and valleys that they have been through. I know so well, the pain and suffering they go through for that one moment of glory. There is no comparison to this feeling. It is this deep feeling of joy that I seek through sport.”
“Today I can say that I have achieved one very big lifelong goal, and that is making the US Olympic Team. I am so proud to represent my country in London and I will perform there to the best of my ability for myself and everyone who has supported me from the beginning as I chased my dream.”
Olds will join her three Team USA teammates, Evelyn Stevens, Amber Neben and Kristin Armstrong at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Following the Giro Donne, Olds will return to he home in Girona to do the final fine-tuning before heading to London.