Road to Europe starts in California for Ina Teutenberg

In 2008 and 2009, Ina Yoko Teutenberg was the winningest rider in the HTC-Columbia team, men and women, with 24 wins each year. Those wins included two stages at Route de France, one stage at Giro d’Italia Femminile, a victory at Ronde Van Vlaanderen and the German National Road Championship. And let’s not forget about the team which had tremendous results with a grand 46 victories in 2009. So how can you top that this year?

“I think we have a better team for the Classics with [Noemi] Cantele being there, Judith [Arndt] being back, hopefully we can win a big Classic this year. It’s always hard. It would be nice to win a big stage race too this year with one of the girls. Claudia Haussler will be back for that.” replied a relaxed Teutenberg on a sunny day in California. “You just go out, try to do your best and hopefully you get better.”

A smiling Ina Teutenberg (HTC-Columbia) enjoying a sunny training ride

One race that Teutenberg would love to add to her palmares is the Ronde van Drenthe. “I would really like to win in Drenthe. It’s a good cobblestone race, I just love to race in Holland, I’ve always wanted to win that race but I haven’t been able to. We’ll see.”

Last year, Teutenberg added another classic to her total, the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, somewhat to her surprise.

“As I said last year, I never thought that I would be able to win Flanders because it’s fairly hilly and it’s hard to actually get over the hills with the likes of Judith, Cantele, and all that. So I was surprised last year. Drenthe is more to my characteristics, it’s pretty flat, cobblestone, it’s windy, that’s normally more my race than Flanders is going to be.”

But first California. Before hitting some of Europe’s toughest one-day races, Teutenberg hones her form in the Unites States after spending part of her winter training in San Luis Obispo, California.

“There’s really not much going on in Europe at this time of the year and the weather is normally never as safe as over here so I’ve always felt that these races are good to get fit for Europe.” explained Teutenberg who has been following the same schedule for many years.

By the time March arrives, she is joined by a few teammates as they tackle races in California, the final preparation for racing in Europe. This year, joining her are Americans Kim Anderson and Evelyn Stevens, Australian Chloe Hosking and Emilia Fahlin of Sweden.

“The races in March are always hard. When you get ready for then, you get ready for Europe. A lot of the US girls go to Europe, so I think they get better and more experience every year so it’s getting harder to win too.” said Teutenberg.

Last year, a very fit Teutenberg and her team swept the Merco Cycling Classic, San Dimas Stage Race and Redlands Bicycle Classic.

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Columbia-High Road) takes the sprint ahead of Tina Pic (Colavita/Sutter Home) and Lauren Tamayo (TIBCO) at Beaumont race in 2009 Redlands

Redlands was another surprise. “I didn’t really expect to win that race that year. I’m not a GC rider normally.” smiled Teutenberg.

With no Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium this year, the fitness is not quite at the same level.

“I don’t think I’m as fit for these two races as I was last year, I’m fit but I think I need them for April. So we’ll see what happens. We try to win them, that’s for sure our goal to win San Dimas and Redlands, there are a lot of other people out there and you have to beat them.”

HTC-Columbia Team Owner Bob Stapleton and Ina Teutenberg

Teacher and more. HTC-Columbia Team Owner Bob Stapleton called Teutenberg the “emotional center of the team”.

“She is probably the most respected and the most feared member of the peloton. She is both tough and lovable at the same time. The young riders need someone they can look up to but also have someone to comfort them. Just having her on the team makes everyone feel that anything is possible. She helps the team pull together not only tactically but also emotionally. She is everything that makes a team.” commented Stapleton.

The experienced Teutenberg, who started racing at the age of 6, has also taken on the role of mentor on the team with new riders such as 19-year old Hosking, also a sprinter who likes the cobbles.

Newcomer Hosking. After a successful six month period racing with a Dutch Club team last year, Hosking got the call. “Kristy Scrymgeour sent me an email saying we’ve been watching your results and I want to talk to you.” She joined the team as a stagiaire in 2009 and is back as a neo-pro.

“It’s pretty amazing, just to be surrounded by riders like Kim and Ina.” said Hosking. “ There’s so much to be gained just being around them, I’ve really looking forwards to the year and everything that can be learned.”

Neo-pro Chloe Hosking (HTC-Columbia)

Learning a lot about her training. “How the things that I do at the beginning of the season are going to carry me throughout the season and the years coming.”

And about sprinting. “Just watching Ina, how she sprints, what she does in a sprint. Even after the road race in Merced, Ina talked me through what she did and it was really interesting to hear the tactics that she used. She knows everything, there is so much to be learned.”

She described the final laps of the Merco Grand Prix. “Everyone was at the front for the last five laps, Kim took over. Ina had told me to glue myself to her wheel, just wait and see what happens. In the last 300 meters of the race, if that, Ina called me around her and ‘oh I better get going’.” Hosking laughed. “I flew around through the last left hand corner and started sprinting. Ina won and obviously it worked.”

Her goals for the year are to learn and “to have good results at Borsele and Roeselare, I really had two good results there last year and this year I want to back that up.”

“Hopefully I can just live up to the expectations that I’ve set for myself.”

Worlds. One goal that Teutenberg has set for herself this year is to do well at the World Championships this year which should be a course suited for sprinters.

“Last year I faded in September, I didn’t have a good month. So try to approach it a bit different and have a bit more of a break in between and try to be fit for that end of the year.” said Teutenberg who will take a longer break in August.

Another goal is to defend the German National jersey. Given her career, it would be easy to assume that it was not her first National Road title, as I did, but Teutenberg nicely corrected me.

“Last year was the first year that I’ve ever won it. It’s pretty special, I will enjoy wearing it until June where hopefully we can defend it as a team.” said Teutenberg. “For several years I didn’t do Nationals, normally they’re pretty hilly so it’s hard to win for a sprinter, last year it was flat and the girls did a really good job setting me up there.”

At the age of 35, Teutenberg still enjoys racing. “I think I’ve gotten stronger as an overall rider, I don’t think I’ve gotten faster, I think it’s just a different perspective you have to take the older you get.”

HTC-Columbia team for San Dimas and Redlands: Kim Anderson, Evelyn Stevens, Emilia Fahlin, Chloe Hosking and Ina Teutenberg

This year looks set to be a repeat as Teutenberg has already swept the Merco Cycling Classic. Can anyone stop the HTC-Columbia juggernaut in San Dimas?

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