Newly-launched development team Canyon-SRAM Generation are set to compete in their first-ever races this weekend, lining up for a pair of one-day races in Spain.
The team will race Il Liga Interautonomica De Féminas on Saturday followed by the I Trofeo Dulcinea on Sunday, both in the Ciudad Real region. The two races form the opening to the seven-round Interautonomica Women's League, aimed at promoting women’s cycling in central Spain.
A four-rider squad will compete in the weekend’s races, comprising Agua Marina Espinola Salinas (Paraguay), Alia Mansor (Malaysia), Valentine Nzayisenga (Rwanda) and Llori Sharpe (Jamaica).
Canyon-SRAM Generation was founded in 2022 as a way to support riders from nations underrepresented in cycling, and their racing debut marks an important start to the project.
"This weekend is the first step for the team to start racing together and we aim to use it as a starting point,” said sports director Adam Szabo. “We want the team to learn and experience as much as possible and then we can progress step by step.”
25-year-old Espinola Salinas is the most experienced racer on the team, and is looking forward to the season getting underway after two successful team training camps.
"Our training has been really consistent across the first two team training camps and afterwards in Girona. We are still building the form towards the important races later in the season, but we're already in quite good shape now which gives us all some confidence," she said.
Espinola Salinas will take on a road caption role over the weekend and expects two challenging races.
"The two races have a fast circuit, depending on the wind. I'm expecting a lot of attacks on both days and we will have to play our cards wisely.
For two of the riders - Sharpe and Mansor - Saturday will be their first experience of racing in Europe.
“I feel a whirlwind of emotions honestly,” said Sharpe. “I'm extremely nervous but so, so excited to get my first race underway. I don't know what to expect for this race or the season in general, but I do know that I'll give it my all.”
Mansor added that the weekend’s racing will be mainly about learning and gaining experience in the peloton after making a move from a predominantly track background.
"My preparation this year is very different because I'm now with a professional road team,” she said. “I think I have prepared well so far with enough training and recovery and I'm ready for the first races. I'm very excited!"
The team’s remaining four riders - Ricarda Bauernfeind, Antonia Niedermaier, Fatima Deborah Conteh and Olivia Shililifa - are expected to make their racing debuts for the team in the coming weeks.
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Matilda Price is a freelance cycling journalist and digital producer based in the UK. She is a graduate of modern languages, and recently completed an MA in sports journalism, during which she wrote her dissertation on the lives of young cyclists. Matilda began covering cycling in 2016 whilst still at university, working mainly in the British domestic scene at first. Since then, she has covered everything from the Tour Series to the Tour de France. These days, Matilda focuses most of her attention on the women’s sport, writing for Cyclingnews and working on women’s cycling show The Bunnyhop. As well as the Women’s WorldTour, Matilda loves following cyclo-cross and is a recent convert to downhill mountain biking.