Mitchelton-Scott announced Wednesday that they have signed Teniel Campbell on a two-year contract through 2022. Campbell, 23, will step up to the Women’s WorldTour next year for the first time since launching her professional cycling career at the World Cycling Centre (WCC) in 2018.
“Mitchelton-Scott has been my dream team ever since I was in the World Cycling Centre, some days I have to pinch myself to believe it’s actually happening," Campbell said, who recently visited the team's service course in Brunello, outside of Varese, Italy.
“To be given this opportunity here to continue growing and to give them the chance to help me grow and develop is really exciting because they have a lot of top-end riders, they have been here for some time now and you can progressively see how strong they are, how they develop a lot and how well they work together as a unit."
Hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, Campbell started her career in professional road and track cycling at the World Cycling Centre in Switzerland, following an invitation from UCI President David Lappartient to join the programme on an full scholarship beginning in early 2018, where she also worked with now Mitchelton-Scott director Alejandro Gonzales-Tablas.
The World Cycling Centre formed a women’s Continental team last year, which participates in many of the UCI-registered road races on the calendar, and is used as a launching pad for riders to move up to the professional ranks. Riders to have also grown through the programme include Arlenis Sierra from Cuba and Marlen Reusser from Switzerland.
Campbell was offered a contract as a trainee to race for Cogeas-Mettler Pro Cycling near the end of her first season at the WCC in 2018, but she returned to WCC for 2019 and experienced one of the best seasons of her career winning the overall title at the Tour de Belle Isle en Terra and fifth at the Nokere Koerse. She also won the under-23 time trial at the Pan American Championships and later that summer secured double silver medals in the time trial and road race at the Pan American Games.
After negotiating multiple offers, she signed her first full-time contract with Valcar-Travel & Service for the 2020 season where she finished third at the Vuelta CV Feminas and fifth at Omloop van het Hageland before the season was shut down due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Campbell said that moving up to a top-tier Women’s WorldTeam at Mitchelton-Scott next year has happened much sooner than she anticipated, but that it’s a dream come true.
“I never thought I would get to this point so quickly… to be performing so well amongst the best in Europe was really a shock to everyone because they wouldn’t expect me to fit in so quickly and already be a force to reckon with on the circuit," Campbell said.
Campbell is a versatile athlete; a time trial specialist and a strong sprinter who pushes over 1,200 watts. In an interview with Cyclingnews in June, Campbell said she has ambitions of winning a major one-day race, a world title, break world records, and win a gold medal at the Olympic Games.
With another season under her belt and the experience of racing on a WorldTour team on the horizon, Campbell said she’s willing to learn and grow into the possibility of becoming a future contender in the Classics and maybe even at stage races.
“There’s still so much to discover about myself because I am so young and there’s so much to learn and improve on so you never really know (what type of rider I am)," she said. "In the first year in the WCC, Alejandro told me that he believed my characteristics were for the Classics, I also believe I am a Classics rider, but you never know, maybe I can be a general classification contender.
“I just want to gain so much experience and knowledge because you can have all of the power in the world but if you don’t have the experience, that team around you to really push you and help you grow, I don’t think the results will come.”
Campbell told Cyclingnews that she dreams of having a long and successful career in professional cycling, and compared herself to that of Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt for his accomplishments and charismatic personality. "I want to achieve the unthinkable," Campbell told Cyclingnews.
'We will be giving her the support she deserves'
Mitchelton-Scott noted that they have been tracking Campbell’s progress in the professional ranks since she graduated from the World Cycling Centre two years ago. They believe that they can provide her with the professional team structure and environment that will allow her to continue to develop into a world-class athlete.
“We are extremely excited about the arrival of Teniel to Mitchelton-Scott. We have been keeping a close eye on her development since our sports director Alejandro pointed her out to us," said Brent Copeland, general manager at Mitchelton-Scott.
“Teniel went through the excellent schooling of the UCI World Cycling Centre and we believe she has an enormous amount of talent. Together with our team’s professional structure and experience, we will do our utmost to take the margin of improvement we feel Teniel has to the highest of levels."
Campbell grew up in Hardbargain, located on the south side of Trinidad. She learned how to race bikes at a local club and from hanging around with the boys. She told Cyclingnews that her country offers little in terms of cycling infrastructure, and few families place their children in the sport because it's too expensive. She said it took support from her parents, along with her cycling community to help her get to where she is in cycling today, and she hopes to pay it forward by helping the sport grow in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Teniel is a person who has made huge sacrifices to get to where she is and we will be giving her the support she deserves to make sure all her sacrifices have all been very much worthwhile," Copeland said.
Mitchelton-Scott have already announced contract extensions for leader Amanda Spratt and Jessica Roberts, along with new signings Ane Santesteban from Ceratizit-WNT and Arianna Fidanza from Lotto Soudal Ladies. The team's co-leader Annemiek van Vleuten will move to Movistar Team Women in 2021. The remaining spots on the roster have not yet been announced.
“We also thank team owner Gerry Ryan who is always a big supporter of Australian talent but at the same time is encouraging us to keep the team as international as possible," Copeland said. "Teniel fits in very well with this philosophy, we welcome Teniel to the team and we are very much looking forward to seeing her in our team colours."
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