Voices of the 2019 Colorado Classic: Janel Spilker
Two months ago we revealed our talented team of announcers for the upcoming 2019 Colorado Classic® presented by VF Corporation: Brad Sohner and Meredith Miller will be entrusted with the commentating of the live streaming, while Dave Towle and Janel Holcomb will host the on-stage announcing at the event. We couldn’t think of a more qualified crew to bring the action and excitement of our game-changing four-day event to you, and so, as we get closer to the start line, we’d like to introduce, one-by-one, to the voices of the 2019 Colorado Classic.
Please meet on-stage talent Janel Spilker
We are thrilled to welcome Janel Spilker (f.k.a. Holcomb) back to the Colorado Classic. A voice of the Colorado Classic since 2017, Janel will once again be making her way to the start and finish line stages and bring color, insights and explanations to the mic as the race unfolds.
Janel got her hooked on cycling in 2006 as a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, and it wasn’t long before she turned riding into racing. She raced professionally from 2008 until 2015, and amassed some notable accolades including the National Road Calendar title, wins at the Cascade Classic and Joe Martin Stage Race, and the opportunity to race the women’s Giro and the World Championships.
After retiring, Janel kept her wheels firmly planted in cycling through coaching, running cycling camps and immersing herself in the gravel scene, scoping up a third place at the prestigious Dirty Kanza and a win at Crusher in the Tushar, “for fun”.
Janel will be seen and heard on stage throughout the four-day event alongside Dave Towle.
Quick Q & A:
Do you remember hearing the news that the 2019 Colorado Classic presented by VF Corporation was going to be a women’s only event? And what was your reaction?
Yes, I heard the news from David Koff, who's the CEO of RPM Events Group. He had come out to L.A. for a meeting with someone and asked me out to lunch. And I could tell that something exciting was happening.
When I think back to it now, hearing him say that they were going full in on a women’s event, I almost didn’t know what to say. I just sat there in silence as he continued on saying that here was going to be live race coverage, four stages, and longer stages, and funding for teams, and social media, and and and. Everything about it was done with intention and for the right reasons. And that is exactly what this is: it’s the right and the exciting thing to do!
So the fact that they were able to do it and they're going to do it so well, I think is huge.
What do you think is going to be the biggest difference this year, aside from the obvious fact that it’s just a women’s race.
Good question. To start: the course. The fact that it’s in Steamboat, Avon, Golden and Denver, that should offer a nice variety of terrain. And my guess is that with those different locations, the courses are going to be more challenging [than previous years] and really exciting.
But honestly, the live coverage makes all the difference. We know that women’s racing is *so* exciting but so often people can’t watch it. For fans at home and around the world to be able to watch it and get introduced to the sport if they’re not already fans, is going to be huge.
The Colorado Classic was given a UCI 2.1 status this year, only one of 13 events world-wide. What do you think that does for the competition?
Next year in an Olympic year, so the UCI points are going to be important for qualification. This means good competition. There will be riders like Katie Hall — whose trade teams isn’t going to be there — still wants a stab at those points and found a different way to race here. Likewise, there are teams like Rally-UHC, TIBCO and Sho-Air Twenty20 who have riders with Olympic capabilities but don’t race in Europe full-time and so have to be there at this [rare domestic UCI] race to try and win some of those valuable UCI points.
Plus, it’s always good when you get a bunch of the European riders making the trek to compete for those UCI points.
Additionally, there will, hopefully, be thousands of people watching, which is really good for the exposure of the sport.
As a commentator, how do you prepare for an event like this?
I try to watch as much women's racing as I can, and read all the articles and race synopses of the many races you can’t watch. After that, I always get in touch with the team managers and talk to them about what's going on with their teams and just try getting the scoop. I have also spent a lot of time riding and racing in Colorado so I know some of the courses and I get what those riders are going through.
You’ve been retired for four years now. Do you miss it or do you like being on this side of the race?
I mean it is so great to go to races like the Tour of California or the Colorado classic or watch women's races when they are shown online. I'll be on the edge of my seat, screaming and cheering and all of that, and it’s still so exciting and so fun to me. And I do love still being involved in the sport through coaching, running camps and commentating. Going to the races, you realize how much of an extended family the cycling community it's amazing.
But when I get on my bike these days I do it for the adventure and exercise and I do push myself at times but for different reasons.
You know the the women who are out there racing, they are still looking at their careers and all of the risks that they take pale in comparison to the rewards that they get from it. For me, when I get on my bike, I don’t want to take those risks anymore. I’m happy to be retired.
So give me your best sales pitch. Why should people come out in person to watch the races and hear you commentate and/or why should they tune in and watch via the live stream?
The Colorado Classic will have guaranteed exciting racing regardless of how you watch it, but you should come out to the races in person so you can also feel the energy and meet the stars of women's cycling.
Come out with your families! It’s a perfect family event. Who wouldn’t want to spend a day outside in Colorado? Bring your bikes, ride out to a fun part of the course and cheer on some of the best racers in the world!
While Janel and Dave deliver on-stage commentary, Meredith Miller and Brad Sohner will do the same online, during the livestream. Get to know “Voice of the 2019 Colorado Classic” Meredith Miller here.