DOHA, Qatar (VN) — Shelley Olds ended the Ladies Tour of Qatar without a win Friday, but thanks to team Bigla, she leaves the Middle East with new motivation for the 2015 season.
“She’s in really good condition,” sports director Manel Lacambra told VeloNews. “Of course, we need more races, that final intensity, but she’s really strong right now.”
The Swiss team reshuffled its management for 2015 and signed several new riders, including Olds, from Alé-Cipollini. The 34-year-old from Massachusetts, who will lead the team, counts wins in the Giro d’Italia and the Chongming Island World Cup.
Olds said Bigla pushed her to a new level this winter at its training camp in Spain.
“The new team is a totally different level than anything I’ve been a part of before, a great team with great management, great staff, and the riders are all high-class riders,” Olds said.
“We pushed each other a lot in training, and that helped my preparation.”
The team met for 10 days in Fuerteventura, Spain, before traveling to Qatar in the Persian Gulf. After the race, they will meet again in Girona, Spain.
“At the training camp, when they decide to do intensity work or train on the climbs. … It’s not the same as when you are riding by yourself,” added Lacambra.
“But when you have riders like Annemiek van Vleuten, Sharon Laws, the climbers, then you really need to push to stay with them or to drop them. When they are training, it’s like a race at times. They have fun, but they are getting stronger pushing each other.”
Olds began well in the Tour of Qatar on Tuesday with a fifth place and placed second on stage 3. On day two, though, she was one of many who lost time in the crosswinds.
“We are a new team, and we are still improving. Here, especially in these windy conditions, it’s harder for us because we are still not working together perfectly,” Lacambra said.
“On stage 3, she was alone for the second half, and she had to defend herself in a group of 30 riders, where some teams had all their riders. She was alone, but in the final she was second.”
Olds will tune her form in Girona and return for a series of one-day races leading to the Ronde van Vlaanderen.
“She likes the Ronde van Drenthe [March 14], where she placed second last year. Also the Trofeo Alfredo Binda [March 29], where she always arrives in the front group. And Flanders [April 5], even if she was sick last year,” said Lacambra.
“She’s improving every year and getting stronger. In the worlds and the Olympics, she was top 10. When she’s in form, she can stay with the top riders in the world.”