CYCLING: Sharon Laws delighted to start 2014 with win in Argentina
SHARON LAWS, like all professional cyclists, tends to follow the sun, but she has had a rude awakening since returning from success at her first race of 2014, the Tour of San Luis in Argentina.
Last year, ‘home’ for Bourton-raised Laws, a Beijing Olympian and British road race champion in 2012, was Girona in Spain and South Africa during the winter.
When she signed for new US-based team United Healthcare in 2014 she committed to live in Asheville, North Carolina.
But having returned from the 42 degrees C of Argentina, she found Asheville to be still in the throes of the polar vortex.
“On my return, I decided to go for a training ride on the road,” said Sharon. “All was going well and I stopped to take a photo and within the next 10 minutes I found myself in a snow storm.
“It was quite a scary descent and I was freezing by the time I got home. Today was -5C so it has been a shock to the system after Argentina.”
One or two minor hiccups aside – UHC’s first stage winner Hannah Barnes had to pull out of the Tour of San Luis after crashing on day two, and overall winner Alison Powers had a puncture on stage three – Sharon’s first competitive outing with her new squad could hardly gone better – from the catwalk (!) of the opening presentation to a place on the podium at the finish.
“Apparently modelling is a popular career choice for girls in Argentina and the women involved in the organisation of the race wanted to show young girls that they can be athletes as well as models,” explained Sharon.
“It was a great start for the team. Hannah started it well with a win on the first stage and we came away with the overall win, two stage wins, two additional podium places and the overall team prize.
“Losing one of our two sprinters (Hannah) made it much harder for us as a team as we had only four riders to control the race.
“My job was to make the race hard when there were hills, to help with the initial lead-out and on the last stage to cover any attacks.
“I was pleased with my Time Trial as although I was 50 seconds behind the leader I was only on my road bike with no disc wheel.
“I finished 13th overall but my placing isn’t important as we were working for Alison.
“I struggled a lot in the heat. Apart from that I felt quite good for January and confident that I’ve overcome the injury last year (Sharon spent time in intensive care after a race crash in South Africa).”
She is already on the move again, heading to Phoenix, Arizona for the UHC team presentation this week.
“We will be there just under a week,” said Sharon. “I will spend February in Asheville and our next race is in El Salvador in early March. I’m already looking forward to racing again.”
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