2018 Stage Winner Kendall Ryan to Return to the Colorado Classic on her Road to Tokyo
By Anne-Marije Rook
Driving through the California town of Ventura, pro cyclist Kendall Ryan (Tibco - Silicon Valley Bank) can be seen some 40 feet off the ground. She’s screaming, arms pushed back, chest forward like an eagle mid dive.
The roadside billboard is promoting the upcoming Tour of California and women’s race's first visit to So Cal.
Ryan, a Ventura local, had her first WorldTour victory at that race last year, when she bested everyone to the line in a chaotic sprint finish in Elk Grove. Now, that memorable moment is stretched across in 24 feet of billboard in her hometown, which will host stage one of the Amgen Women’s Tour of California later this month.
“Big teams, big climbs. This year is going to be full on,” Ryan said about the 2019 Amgen Tour of California.
As a sprinter, Ryan is less excited about the big climbs, but the first stage will be a special one for her.
“The first day will be more like my cup of tea. I know those roads like the back of my hand so I am really looking forward to that race,” she said.
“I am actually really excited for having [the European riders] come over early to beat the jet lag as they get to check out my home town, ride all my favorite roads, and it brings a lot of revenue into Venture, too, so it’s really special.”
Her win in California set off a host of other successes, including stage victories at BC Superweek, the Armed Forces Cycling Classic and, of course, right here in the Colorado Classic® presented by VF Corporation when she nicked the win in the final stage.
She’s looking forward to returning to the Colorado Classic presented by VF Corporation, and lauded the news that the race had become a women’s only event with better stages, live coverage, a significant prize purse, and a UCI 2.1 status and the UCI points that’ll be on offer.
“I think it’s a step forward for us,” said Ryan. “I think it’s amazing that the UCI wants to create races just for women. I think that the men have a lot of races that are just for them and we don’t really have any events that are ours. I think it’s really special that it’s happening in the US. And Colorado is smack-dab in the middle and it’s really special that they’re creating that platform for us.”
Eying an opportunity to join the US national team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Ryan has been spending more time than usual in Colorado, doing laps inside the Colorado Springs velodrome.
“I like Colorado. I have spent some time training in Colorado with team USA at the Olympic Training Center and I have definitely logged some good rides at the track and out there in Garden of the Gods. It’s a beautiful area to showcase our sport for sure,” she commented.
A bike racer since the tender age of six, Ryan is already a three-time national champion and currently in her ninth year as a professional cyclist. Yet her biggest dreams are only now taking shape.
The 26-year-old has her eyes set on the Olympics, juggling a track and road schedule to double her chances.
In a way, it’s like coming full circle, said Ryan, who gained her sprinter skills from racing on the track as a youngster. But 2018 was her strongest road season yet, so her goals are multi-discipline and ambitious.
She’ll have to pick up UCI points wherever she can and has a full calendar ahead with both US and European races.
The big focus?
“RideLondon,” she said definitely, the finish line almost visible in her eyes.
“I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself there. Last year I had a really bad crash with a severe concussion and that was a real pity for me — wrong spot at the wrong time for sure. So I’m looking forward to a do-over. It’s a big race, there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of cash on the line…more than my salary! Well over my salary actually, so that would be a really nice bonus for my team.”
And just a few short weeks after London, Ryan and her Tibco teammates will line up at the Colorado Classic where Ryan hopes to be in the mix whenever a sprint finish that unfolds.
“It's going to be good, and with live coverage I hope people tune in,” she said.
“From the gun, our races are on. I don’t think there’s a men’s race that can match what we do. It’s full gas the entire time, attacks left and right. Because our races are shorter than the men’s, they tend to be way more animated and there’s always something happening. We don’t let each other breathe. You’re going to want to watch!”