Amber Joseph will make her debut as a guest rider with L39ION of Los Angeles at the Armed Forces Cycling Classic held on June 5 and 6 in Arlington, Virginia. In an interview with Cyclingnews, the Barbados national champion said the team’s focus on developing young and diverse talent made it the perfect team to join for a summer of criterium racing across the US.
"L39ION is all about changing the sport on a huge scale, and people are noticing it. To be a part of that and to learn how they do it, it’s inspiring, and I want to change cycling in my country in the same way. Change is what I want to be a part of - it’s a match made in heaven," Joseph told Cyclingnews in a Zoom call from her summer home base near Trexlertown, Pennsylvania.
Joseph, 21, was born and raised in Barbados and relocated to Reading, UK, with her mother in 2013, where she became a competitive track racer. She worked with a track coach at Palmer Park Velo, John Wann, who she credits for her early success in the youth and junior ranks.
She has a focus on mass-start events; Omnium, Scratch Race, Points Race, and competes for her national team in world-class events.
This season, she is based on the east coast US, close to the Valley Preferred Cycling Center velodrome, where she can train and race throughout the summer months.
"My mom used to drive me every Tuesday night after work over an hour to Newport to the closest track. My mom is in this as much as I am, and I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have her support," Joseph said.
Joseph spent two seasons with the World Cycling Centre programme in Switzerland until the end of 2020. She told Cyclingnews that there is little infrastructure and support for the sport of cycling in Barbados, and she wanted to find a road team that could support her goals on the track with a supplemental road racing calendar.
"My weakness on the track is my endurance and so doing more road races and criteriums will help me build up a base to support me in my track races," Joseph said.
She felt that L39ION of Los Angeles was the best place to help her gain road racing experience while also learning about ways she can create change and development in the sport of cycling in Barbados.
"I’m a single-nation rider, it’s not easy going to races on my own and not having teammates. There are nations with huge funding and support. It’s just me and my mom. I do my own mechanics. If there's anything I want to do it’s to inspire the sport in Barbados," Joseph said.
"It’s quite simple. I want to help build a structure and a foundation for cycling so that young boys and girls can learn to ride. I want to bring a school of cycling to Barbados."
Joseph will join L39ION of Los Angeles riders Skylar Schneider and Kendall Ryan for two women's events at the Armed Forces Cycling Classic. The Crystal City race will open the weekend of racing on Saturday with a 60-minute criterium. The Clarendon Cup will showcase 50 kilometres, and a total of 250 corners, during the 50-lap race on Sunday.
"I am very excited to have the opportunity to race with them and learn from them. They are at such a high level and having them as teammates is an honour," Joseph said, who is not sure what to expect ahead of her first pair of American-style criteriums.
"I want to help as much as possible. I will give 100 per cent to the team and help where I can. It might be a little, it might be a lot but I will do whatever I can.
"On the road, sprinting would be my strong point. It will take me a while to find my feet and understanding how the racing goes. I’m sure I’ll be fine. I might be a lead-out, get someone in the right place, maybe. I haven’t done a lot of road racing in the last couple of years, but I used to do some criterium racing and circuit races in England."
Joseph said her focus is also on preparing for the Pan-American Elite Track Championships (Lima, Peru in June 2021), Barbados National Championships (July 2021), Junior Pan-American Games (ages 18-21 in Cali, Colombia in 2021), and the Commonwealth Games (Birmingham, England in 2022), and further ahead the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
She will continue to race for L39ION of Los Angeles in August at Athens Twilight Criterium in Georgia and Joe Martin Stage Race in Arkansas.
"I will go to the road races where the team can fit me into their programme, which will benefit my track racing, and I’m so proud that it’s with L39ION. They are everything that I want to do in sport," Joseph said.
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