An accomplished road cyclist, Pia Sundstedt had gone as far as she wanted to go in cycling by 2002. She was worn down from the stress and pressure of European road racing and walked away from the sport. Two years later, she reemerged; this time on a mountain bike at a marathon in Pfalz, Germany. After she won, and realized that the second-place rider was the current leader in the World Cup, she knew she had found something to love about cycling again. Steve Medcroft caught up with the 2006 UCI Marathon World Cup Series leader on the eve of the marathon in Vilabassa, Italy (in which Sundstedt went on to place third):
The town of Kokkola, Finland is an unlikely breeding ground for an elite cyclist. The city of 36,000, which sits some 500-kilometers north of Helsinki on the Western coast of Finland, boasts and average annual temperature of just 4.8 degrees Celsius and sunlight for as little as five hours a day in winter. But it happened anyway; in a region where every child lives, plays and gets to school on cross-country skis, Pia Sundstedt found a way to become a cyclist.
"In my school years, when I was a competitive skier," the thirty-one year old said from her hotel in Vilabassa, Italy just before the third round of the 2006 UCI World Cup, "I kept active in summer and cycling was available so I got into it."
Read the entire Pia Sundstedt interview here.