A Weekend in Philadelphia – Shelley Olds takes 2nd at Liberty Classic!

Amber Pierce, Inga Cilvinaite, Rachel Neylan, and Shelley Olds pose for a photo outside the Sheraton hotel in downtown Philadelphia.

On the morning before the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championships, Fuji organized a Q&A with its three sponsored professional cycling teams – Diadora-Pasta Zara, GEOX-TMC, and V Australia – with the questions coming from approximately 20 members of the Cadence Cycling Foundation, a Philadelphia-based, Fuji-sponsored, non-profit organization devoted to providing cycling opportunities, intermingled with educational initiatives, for inner city children ages 9-18.

After the teams introduced themselves to the children, members of the Cadence Cycling Foundation raised their hands and asked the questions they’ve always wanted to ask their idols: What’s the hardest part of the sport? What’s your training regime like? How do you cope with language barriers? How did you get to where you are today?

And they listened closely to each response.

Shelley responds to the question: What’s the most difficult part about being a professional cyclist? To which she replied, “Having the energy and willpower to train every day.”

It was a unique opportunity for the area’s rising stars to meet some of the greatest cyclists in the world, the riders they look up to.

Members of Diadora-Pasta Zara and V Australia pose for a group photo with the Cadence Cycling Foundation.

In the evening, Fuji hosted a dinner for its athletes in downtown Manayunk, right along the race course. Here, Amber, Inga, Shelley, and Rachel pose with Team Manager Manel Lacambra.

Outside the restaurant, the Diadora ladies mingled with the members of GEOX-TMC and posed for a group photo.

Shelly Olds finishes 2nd in Liberty Classic!

In the 92.7-km Liberty Classic – the largest single-day professional cycling race in the United States – Shelley Olds finished 2nd, coming across the line mere inches behind World Champion Gorgia Bronzini in the final bunch sprint. Shelley’s Diadora teammates dominated the final kilometers with their lead-out train, putting Shelley in great position.

Shelley managed to be in the front of the peloton for all four climbs up the Manayunk Wall, a signature feature of the Philly Bike Race course: 800 meters long with a 17 percent grade at its steepest point. Every year, Philadelphia-based Fuji Bikes holds a party for its customers, dealers, employees, and sponsored team staff at the top of the wall, so when Shelley led the peloton up The Wall, there was a roar of cheers.

Inga Cilvinaite also had a great race, finishing with the peloton at 18th.

For more info and photos from the race, check out Cycling News’ coverage of the Liberty Classic below.

Bronzini steals the show in Philadelphia

Mara Abbott forced to miss Liberty Classic due to crash

Diadora-Pasta Zara was missing a notable teammate in Philadelphia. Mara Abbott sustained a concussion and lacerations on her fingers from a training crash just hours before her flight to Philadelphia. The team was very disappointed she couldn’t be with them but is hopeful she will be able to return to racing soon, particularly for the upcoming Giro Donne to defend her title. For more info on the crash, click on the link below.

Concussion takes Abbott out of Liberty Classic

Mara Abbott wins Iron Horse Bicycle Classic for 4th year in a row

Mara Abbott won an unprecedented fourth consecutive Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Silverton, Colorado at the end of May. Check out VeloNews‘ article on the win below!

Ned Overend, Mara Abbott win 2011 Iron Horse Bicycle Class road race

Podium Cafe sits down with Diadora-Pasta Zara’s Rachel Neylan

Check out the link below for a great article on Diadora-Pasta Zara’s climbing domestique Rachel Neylan.

An interview with Rachel Neylan: “the harder you work, the luckier you get”

Mara Abbott finishes 2nd in Tour of the Gila GC

Reigning Tour of the Gila champion Mara Abbott finished second in the race’s general classification Sunday, proving yet again to be a top contender in Silver City’s annual race.

After winning the opening mountain stage and retaining the leader’s jersey in the 128.7- km Stage 2, Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes took the lead with a dominant performance in the Stage 3 Tyrone Individual Time Trial.

Mara placed 4th in the 3rd stage, and in the 4th stage Downtown Silver City Criterium, Abbott’s Diadora Pasta-Zara teammate – Eleonora Patuzzo – sprinted to third.

While Abbott outmatched her opponents on the fifth stage’s final climb, she finished 8th and was not able to make up the two-minute gap Hughes held at the start of the final stage.

But it was a terrific overall performance for Abbott, who also finished 3rd in Gila’s Mountain Classification, as well as for young Italian rider Eleonora Patuzzo.

It was also a strong performance for the Diadora-Pasta Zara team, who patrolled the front of the peloton for nearly all five stages.

Final General Classification (Women)

1          Clara Hughes (Pactimo Cycling Team)                          13:19:15

2          Mara Abbott (Diadora-Pasta Zara Team)                   0:02:52

3          Kathryn Donovan (Missing Link Coaching Systems)      0:03:15

Mara Abbott wins first stage of the Tour of the Gila!

Diadora-Pasta Zara made their presence known in a big way Wednesday at the start of the 5-stage Tour of the Gila in Silver City, New Mexico.

Team leader and defending champion Mara Abbott, with the help of her teammates Claudia Hausler, Eleanor Patuzzo, Rachel Neylan, and Amber Pierce, won Gila’s 117-km first stage by a sizable 19 seconds over 2nd place finisher Flavia Oliveira of Pactimo Racing.

In a day marked by strong winds, which thwarted most breakaway attempts, the Diadora-Pasta Zara squad protected Abbott from the wind until a few kilometers before the final 10-km Mongollon climb.

That’s where Abbott launched her attack. Only Oliveira was able to counter, but it was Abbott, the U.S. National Champion, who finished first across the line.

“The team was nothing short of fantastic. Perfect,” said Abbott after the race, who credited the win to her teammates. “Now, we will do everything to defend the leader’s jersey.”

Team manager Manel Lacambra said after the race, “It was a spectacular performance, especially because we were returning from a mishap. The flight that was supposed to bring us to Silver City was canceled at the last minute. The girls slept only five hours before getting on their bikes.”

“Nevertheless, they were fantastic,” said Lacambra. “And it all paid off with a victory by a champion.”

Elite Women Stage #1

1    Mara Abbott (Diadora-Pasta Zara Team)          4:11:40

2    Flavia Oliveira (Pactimo Cycling Team)                0:00:19

3    Clara Hughes (Pactimo Cycling Team)                 0:00:50

Press clippings of Mara’s Stage 1 win

Check out Cycling News’ Tour of the Gila Stage 1 report for great quotes from Mara and awesome photos of  Diadora-Pasta Zara’s Stage 1 Winner on the final climb.

Abbott, Mancebo prevail on windy Mongollon stage

VeloNews reports on how Mara’s Diadora-Pasta Zara teammates arrived at one in the morning on the day of the race before carrying their leader to victory.

Abbott, Mancebo, take mountain-top wins at SRAM Tour of the Gila

An Interview with Diadora-Pasta Zara’s Olga Zabelinskaya

Team Marketing Coordinator Milay Galvez got the chance to speak with Diadora-Pasta Zara veteran Olga Zabelinskaya recently about her goals for the 2011 season. The 31-year-old from St. Petersburg, Russia, who has compiled dozens of international victories since she began her cycling career more than 10 years ago and who finished third in this month”s Energiewacht Tour Stage 3, tells us about what makes the Diadora-Pasta Zara team so special.

MILAY: What is your first priority for the 2011 season?

OLGA: To win the Giro! And if I can’t win myself, I will help one of my teammates win. And of course, the Russian National Championship.

MILAY: How do you feel about the Diadora-Pasta Zara 2011 squad?

OLGA: I feel very, very comfortable. That is why I stayed with this team after last season.

MILAY: What do you think of the young riders?

OLGA: I don’t feel there is any difference between young and older riders. We all are links of the same chain; if there is a weak link, we all fail. It does not matter old or young. We have a very good chain this season.

MILAY: What is special about this team?

OLGA: Trust is very important for me. I trust everyone on my team.

MILAY: What do you think of your Fuji bike?

OLGA: I was on the Nurnberger team in 2004, so I have a bit of experience with Fuji. And the bike has gotten even better.  It’s light, and I feel very comfortable on it.

Mara Abbott tells us about her Diadora “Kula”

I have often been told: “You are the company you keep.” And I’m in some pretty awesome company.

As human beings, we pick up on the energy and mannerisms of those around us. We can uplift or depress one another, inspire or discourage. When we make a conscious choice to spend our time with those that we love and those that motivate us, we raise the game of the entire group because we can feed off of one another.

The concept of living with others in a symbiotic sort of group consciousness is known as being a part of a kula. A guru kula consciousness means that on any given day, any member of the tribe can be the guru: the teacher, the leader, the anchor of the group. Within this collaborative framework, everyone is equally capable of learning from one another.

Every year as contracts are signed and team selections are made, each professional cyclist gets to choose their personal kula for the upcoming season. With the stresses of competition, training, relationships, travel, and health, it can be a difficult choice, and of course, an important one. You have to think: Who do I want to be with me when things get really hard? Who do I want to be by my side when I’m nervous or hurt and my mom is in a different time zone?

For 2011, I chose the Diadora-Pasta Zara team. The decision was on a bit of faith, as I didn’t know most of the riders on the team when I signed. But I decided on instinct, and for these next few months, THIS will be my kula.

I now say to myself, “Abbott – WELL PLAYED.”  I have spent the last two weeks at training camp in Italy with my new teammates, and I can say – with a touch of arrogance – that I totally made an awesome decision.

Over the last few years, as I have aged to an old woman of 25, I think I let fear take the place of joy in my life.  Then I joined a team of the most optimistic, expressively happy girls I have ever met.  In a group, I have always been the irritatingly perky one.  But baby, in this kula, I gotta raise my game!

The gurus who surround me have taught me how to hug and call one another “amore,” to pronounce important Italian words like the names of desserts, and to laugh so hard you can hear one another through hotel room walls. My team is healing every negative conception of the world I might have developed.

Shelley has remained so constant from last year – forgiving, optimistic, and ambitious.

Sinead is not here yet, but I have already been privileged to know her intelligence, work ethic, and great sense of humor.

Claudia has maybe the best laugh I have ever heard. She’s gorgeous and modest, possesses a remarkable devotion to the sport and school, and lends a hand to anyone who needs it.

Olga secretly boasts a quiet hilarity, which complements her poise and passion.

Francesca is constantly sunny. She’s determined and has the best sense of humor.

Eleonora is stable, determined to learn, and open to anyone.

Rachel cares so much for what is right, takes care of all of those around her, and is so engaging.

Inge and her smile make me feel so comfortable – I want to hug her every time I see her.

Jessica may be younger than me, but she already has more composure and grace than I will ever have. She also knows ALL languages.

Amber is warm, smart, and absolutely beautiful inside and out.

Oxana is independent and self-sufficient. Her entire face smiles.

And Alona is completely fearless and is the only other person I have ever met who will sing on a bicycle.

These girls are amazing. If being in their presence brings me closer to their level, I am going to get so cool this year! This team I’ve found myself on is simply an embodiment of joy. If this is the energy they bring to a room, I can’t wait to see what we can do this year on our Fuji bikes.

~ Mara

Shelley recounts her Etrusca win

It was a fantastic race for the team. We prepared perfectly; we knew the course; and we had all trained very hard going into the race. We had a plan and we executed it.

There was a selection about halfway through the 122 km-race, created by the work of the Garmin-Cervélo team, who started a very fast team pace-line in the cross winds after the first climb.

Most of the field missed out on the move; only 20 riders made the front split, and we had 3 riders in it: myself, Olga Zabelinskya, and Alona Andruk. We knew that our odds were good if the break went to the finish together.

The last time up the climb – just 12 km from the finish line – there was another natural selection, and we started the decent with 11 riders. Garmin-Cervélo’s Emma Pooley attacked with 10 km to go and established a 20 second gap before some of the riders in the break started working. Many teams had 2 riders in the break, so a couple of those girls started working at the front. But Emma was holding at 20 seconds.

With about 6 km to go, I asked my teammate Olga to work to bring back Emma, and she went to the front and brought her back almost immediately. After the group was together again, there were no real attempts at another solo breakaway, and everyone in the move was content to wait for the sprint.

I positioned myself for the final sprint, while my teammate Olga stayed on the front and kept the pace fast enough to negate any last minute attacks.

Coming into the last km, Belgium’s Grace Verbeke and Netherlands rider Lucinda Brand jumped out of the group. I followed until we were close enough to the finish for me to jump.

I was extremely happy with the result because the team has worked really hard these last couple of weeks, and it was a really nice reward.

The president of the team was at the finish line with the rest of my teammates and almost all of the staff, so it was really nice for them to be able to see Diadora come away with the victory. It’s a great way to start the season and a true indication that good, hard teamwork pays off!

~ Shelley

Shelley Olds wins the Trofeo Costa Etrusca!

American Shelley Olds won the 122-km Trofeo Costa Etrusca in Cecina, Italy Sunday after beating out Belgium’s Grace Verbeke and the Netherlands’ Martine Bras in the final sprint.

Shelley crossed the finish line with a time of 2:58:00, and her Diadora-Pasta Zara teammate Olga Zabelinskaya came in not long after, finishing 8th overall.

The race kicked off the Italian women’s racing season, and Shelley gave her Italian-based team their first win in their home country, as well as their first overall win of the 2011 season.

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