Skylar Schneider is poised to make just her third appearance on the world stage for the United States at the UCI Road World Championships. As an accomplished sprinter who already has 10 seasons under her belt with pro teams - she started with Team TIBCO-To the Top when she was 14 - it is hard to believe it is her first trip to Worlds as part of the elite women's squad.
The Wisconsin native, whose name is synonymous with criterium racing, is part of a seven-rider squad for USA Cycling at Worlds in Wollongong, Australia. A silver medalist in the junior road race at the 2016 UCI Road World Championships, second to now-defending elite World Champion Elisa Balsamo, she will celebrate her 24th birthday the day before the elite women's 164.3km road race gets underway on Saturday from Helensburgh to Wollongong.
"Ever since it was announced that the 2022 World Championships were going to take place in Wollongong, Australia a few years ago, it has been a very big personal goal for me to be there. As a very goal-oriented person who actually writes all of their goals down with pencil and paper, I've been visualizing this race for years," Schneider told Cyclingnews a few weeks ago as she waited to return to the US from a two-week stint in Europe.
Schneider will be joined by Heidi Franz (InstaFund Racing) as the two women named to the Wollongong Worlds team from USA Cycling's new women's development programme. That team competed in late August at several European events, with Schneider second overall at the UCI 1.2 La Picto-Charentaise in France and a week later sixth from among 150 starters at the 1.1 MerXem Classic in Belgium. In between was a criterium in the Netherlands, which she won.
"The US is bringing a team capable of winning gold. This year my mission at Worlds will be to be the best teammate I can and to contribute to that will be an opportunity that I don't take lightly. I'm fresh off of a successful first trip back to Europe with the US National team which gives me confidence and motivation going into my final few weeks of training leading up to Worlds."
Two of the recent road races in Europe covered just under 120km distances each, 44km less than the Wollongong road course but great tests for the legs. The US team will look for leadership in the road race from WorldTour riders Kristen Faulkner (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) and Leah Thomas (Trek-Segafredo), who will also ride the TT, as well as Veronica Ewers (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB).
Schneider shines in the sprints, especially in criterium races. In her second season with L39ION of Los Angeles, she won three of the seven American Criterium Cup events she raced and stepped on the podium two other times. She also helped teammate Kendall Ryan repeat as US Pro Criterium national champion, taking second place in the process.
"Having left the WorldTour after 2020 and signed with L39ION of Los Angeles to race in the US, I've done a lot of adapting and growing, but have not lost sight of my ultimate goal, which is to be World Champion one day. In order to do that, gaining World Championship experience now will be extremely valuable," said Schneider, who raced three years for Boels-Dolmans Cycling before returning to the domestic scene.
'I've been racing nearly my entire life, having started with BMX at age 4, but this selection for the World's team makes it feel like it's just the beginning of the rest of my career."
After winning junior national titles across road and cyclo-cross disciplines in her early teens, Schneider gained attention with a double victory in 2016 as a junior national road race and criterium champion when she was 18 years old. She then scored the silver medal in the junior women's road race that same year at the Worlds in Doha.
In 2017 at 19 years of age, Schneider had a strong season with a stage win at the Thüringen Ladies Tour while riding for the US national team, and third in the road race at the Pan American championships, which produced a WorldTour contract.
"I'd be lying if I said it has been an easy six years since Doha, but everything I've learned has certainly led me to where I am now and has prepared me for the future. I'm only 23 years old and have a lot of love for this sport left, which L39ION helped me find these past two years, and I would love to be racing for 10 more years. That's why making this World's team feels like the beginning for me, it inspires me to dream about being a World Champion and Olympian someday, and having it feel like it can actually happen."
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