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Photo: Anna Dorovskikh

Anna Dorovskikh’s unorthodox pathway to professional cycling

Four years after she took a spin class in college, Anna Dorovskikh has blossomed into an aspiring pro racer on the Amy D Foundation team.

In her last semester of college at the University of Colorado in Boulder in 2015, Anna Dorovskikh took a spin class.

“It was for stress management,” she recalls. “But the stationary bikes had power meters and the instructor taught classes using power zones, which was super interesting for me and gave me a challenge to improve.”

Dorovskikh walked away from the class — and college — in 2016, she was inspired to buy a new road bike with a power meter. She also gave herself a new challenge: start racing.

Dorovskikh was born in Novosibirsk, a city in Siberia, Russia. When she was 10, her family moved to Colorado to join some of her mom’s side of the family and for a better quality of life. She and her siblings always had bikes, but until that spin class never saw them as anything more than transportation.

But with her new bike and power meter, Dorovskikh began to dip her toe into the road riding scene. She raced for a local club team, Boulder Cycle Sport, that had fast group rides and cyclocross clinics.

“I didn’t have a coach, I did a lot of research on my own, and mostly lived by the credo of ‘ride with those faster than you,’” she said. “Even though the club had regulars on group rides, and I’d see BCS jerseys out at races, I didn’t have any female teammates on the road.”

She also didn’t have any teammates in cyclocross, the other discipline that had piqued Dorovskikh’s interest after college. Last year, she approached the Boulder-based Amy D Foundation with an application for the one spot on their elite cyclocross team but didn’t get it. However, Amy D’s executive director at the time, Des Simon, had put together a Colorado-based cross team, and Dorovskikh was invited to join. This relationship helped her secure a spot on this year’s Colorado Classic squad.

For the 2019 season, the Amy D Foundation chose six races for their composite road teams. Having missed the opportunity to race on one of the teams in 2018, Dorovskikh filled out an application this year.

“I ranked the Colorado Classic as the No. 1 race I wanted to have the opportunity to race,” she said. “I got a call two weeks before Redlands from Katheryn Curi, DS of Amy D Foundation, asking if I wanted a spot on the team for Redlands provided I drive the team car out to California.”

Dorovskikh agreed to the deal. Redlands would be her first pro race. In March, she took the wheel and followed the van driven by Amy D’s mechanic Jon Husk from Boulder to California. She arrived in Redlands, and rather than suffering from road trip fatigue, hopped on the bike invigorated by the drive.

“I managed to get the Best Amateur jersey and finished 20th on GC while racing the last two days with a bad fever,” Dorovskikh said. “And Katheryn informed me that I was selected to race the Colorado Classic, which I can’t be more excited about.”

Dorovskikh has some specific goals for the race, and she’s using Avon’s second stage as a test for some of them.

“I’d like to work on energy conservation on faster courses,” she said. “The second stage is the queen stage with a tough climb. But first we have to do seven crit-like laps. I’m a decent climber and getting through those seven laps without unnecessary energy expenditure is going to be crucial for the first climb.”

For a rider who three years ago felt like she was alone on the road, Dorovskikh mostly feels immense gratitude to be joining the Amy D squad at the Colorado Classic this year.

“I am so grateful to the Amy D Foundation for giving me this chance to experience professional racing with professional support and attention to detail,” she said. “It is so cool to come back from a race and have your bike taken from you for a tune up and a clean. And to have the housing logistics all taken care of, and knowing there’s going to be someone in the feed zone with your bottle and gels and encouraging words, and to have team meetings and debriefings, and talk about strategy and share each other’s successes as well as the pain. It is much easier to suffer with teammates than alone.”