After two years competing abroad, American racer opens season with domestic contests
After spending two years racing abroad, Mara Abbott feels at home with her new US-based cycling team Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12 and is scheduled to race the nation's toughest stage races. The Boulder native hasn't given up on her European racing aspirations targeting Tour de L'Aude in France and the Giro Donne in Italy, both with the US National Team.
Abbott had a breakout year in 2007 when she won the US National Road Championships and placed second at the Montreal World Cup to Italian Fabiana Luperini. Both results came when racing with the Webcor Women's Professional Cycling Team. Her achievements turned heads and she was soon racing in 2008 and 2009 for one of the world's most renowned outfits, presently called HTC-Columbia.
Abbott achieved success in her two-year stint abroad with a stage win at the Giro della Toscana in 2008, and she placed second overall in the Giro Donne in 2009. Despite those accomplishments, she struggled with the challenge of being away from her home, friends and family in the US.
"I love my home, and I love my community," Abbott said. "It is so important for me to involve myself fully. I felt that going back and forth between America and Europe made it really hard to have communities and involve myself in anything other than cycling. Not necessarily because I was away from home for that long at a time but because I couldn't reliably commit to being at home. That was challenging for me."
This year, Abbott has returned to her home-base in Boulder, Colorado, and will compete in a predominantly US-based race calendar with Peanut Butter & Company TWENTY12 under the guidance of current World Time Trial Champion Kristin Armstrong, who has retired from professional bike racing.
"Something that is really cool about this team is that they are taking people as individuals and trying to shake something out of that individual," Abbott said. "I feel like that gives me a lot of freedom of expression and an opportunity to play with integrating cycling into a whole way of life. This freedom of expression, I think is something that is rare in a team oriented sport. I think that it's a really cool thing that this team is trying to do."
"I just got to meet a bunch of my teammates two days ago," she added."Everyone on this team is such an individual and so proud of who they are and so willing to bring whatever their special touches are to the team. That makes it really fun and really lively."
Abbott last competed at the UCI Road World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, last September. This year, she will focus on the San Dimas Stage Race and the Redlands Bicycle Classic. She recently won the Glendora Chevrolet Time Trial, stage one of the San Dimas Stage Race for the third consecutive year. This year she beat her personal best performance by 30 seconds with a winning time of 14:31.
"It's been a really interesting winter for me in Colorado to get all my training in there," Abbott said. "I rode a lot on my own and to be back into a racing situation is good . When you are away from racing that long, I haven't raced since worlds last year, you don't know how you are going to be against your competitors, so I'm happy. I didn't do anything especially out of the ordinary this winter, but I had good training and I didn't spend too much time on my trainer. I felt like it worked out."
Abbott's US calendar includes the San Dimas Stage Race, Redlands Bicycle Classic, Tour of the Gila, US Elite National Championships and the Cascade Cycling Classic. She also will compete in the Tour de L'Aude and the Giro Donne with the US National Team.