It’s a rest-day at the 2022 Giro d’Italia Donne so we’ve delved deep into the VeloNews archives to bring you this interview with the two-time winner Mara Abbott (2010, 2013). The interview was first published back in 2010.
Mara Abbott is back and better than ever. After a 2009 season that was difficult off the bike, the Boulder, Colorado, native returned from a two-year stint with Columbia to a mostly North American schedule this season. Riding with Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12, Abbott won the overall at the SRAM Tour of the Gila and the Cascade Classic. Racing with the national team, the 24-year-old scored a stage win and second overall at the Tour de l’Aude in May before punching the biggest result of her career, two stage wins and the overall at the Giro Donne (the women’s Giro d’Italia), widely regarded as the most challenging and most prestigious women’s stage race in the world.
VeloNews dubbed you “America’s next world champion” in 2007. How does the Giro win stack up against the rainbow jersey you’re still chasing?
It’s very different. I mean, winning worlds, that’s the ultimate. You get to wear the rainbow stripes and being the world champion, very little can top that, maybe being Olympic champion. But, at the same time, there’s no such thing as a stage race world championship and stage racing is actually something that generally I prefer to one-day racing. So being able to win a huge stage race, like l’Aude or the Giro, that’s the tops that you get in stage racing. So, I may not have my world championship yet, but being able to win these big stage races is meaningful on a similar level to me.
VeloNews: What is it about stage racing that you prefer?
It’s epic. The Giro was a good example. One day you can have a stage over all these gorgeous mountains, through an old Olympic village and finish in Livigno, which was amazing. Then you climb the Stelvio, and the next day we’re on a motorway into Milan. Having these days back-to-back-to-back, it’s epic and it’s cool and the way you feel, the things you’re able to draw out of yourself day after day after day, it’s a really full experience. It’s special.
VeloNews: How do you get through a long race on top of your mental game?
When I focus on a race, it’s like going on vacation and people might not hear from you for 10 days. It’s this little isolated bubble of race world. It’s something I’ve had to allow myself to do, to tell myself that, ‘okay, for these 10 days, this is the only thing that matters.’ I always want to do this or care about this or read this book or work on that project, and I have to say, ‘No, for these 10 days, I’m just going to focus on this.’ It’s really simple in some ways. I realized there is a choice: everything is about the race, or it’s more challenging and I’m giving everything else up to be at this race. Once I’ve made the decision that this race is where I want to be and I’m completely committed to that moment, it’s easy, you just have to worry about riding your bike.