Kelli Emmett has traded her Ford Cycling gear for that of Team Giant. She joins fellow Giant cross country racer Adam Craig and Carl Decker. Emmett talked to Cyclingnews as she prepared to depart for the Medalla Light Ultimate Dirt Challenge, a UCI race in Puerto Rico this weekend.
"It'll be my first race of the season," said Emmett, who will celebrate her 30th birthday in two weeks. "I'm very excited about it."
Last season was a tough one for Emmett, who calls home Colorado Springs, Colorado. "I got third at short track at nationals, and I had some decent races in Europe, where I was third American. I did have a top-five NORBA at Sugar (Mountain in North Carolina).
"Then I broke my arm mid-season. I was in July at Crankworks. I was downhilling. I learned a lesson last year: no downhilling in July, during the season."
Yet she kept her year in perspective. "It was one of those seasons where I had a lot of mechanicals and flats. But there were a couple of good results, and many times I was in good position when something did happen."
"This is my third year doing the World Cup circuit. I did it the last two years. Last year, I didn't do all the races. Both years, really, I missed one or two races. It's important to get that experience. It just takes time getting your butt kicked and learning how to race over there."
Emmett hopes to build on international success from 2005, during which she took eighth at the Mont St. Anne World Cup and finished 12th in the World Cup overall. Along with Craig, she will be attending plenty of races in the quest for UCI points.
"I'm interested in making the long team for the Olympics, which will be determined by UCI points at the end of the year." Emmet is targeting the NMBS series in the US and the World Cup races internationally.
Both Craig and Emmett are trying to cut back on the total quantity of racing they undertake. "Every year, I say I'm not going to do as many races, but I always do too many. Adam is the same way." Decker, on the other hand, will likely undertake a slightly different program. "He's not concerned with chasing points this year."
Emmett and Craig will get to test their form this weekend in Puerto Rico. Then look for them at the NMBS #1 in Phoenix and Sea Otter subsequent weekends.