3 September 2013
Felicia Gomez announced recently she will join the Leopard-Sapporo Team for 2014.
“I had a very short professional career and did what I felt I could,” reported Gomez, “but now my goal is to help others. I can do that by being on a team and being an example. I was fortunate that when I was a professional cyclist I had directors teach strategy. I want to teach that to other riders.”
Gomez acknowledges that both NorCal and more National races align with her goals.
“Martin Santos and Jane Despas want to take Leopard-Sapporo to the next level of an NRC team,” continued Gomez. “That was very attractive to me. It is a little bit of a higher level of racing as well being able to share the director responsibilities with Jane Despas.
“I can bring experience. I’ve raced at the highest level of racing and at most NRC races. I hope they will be able to utilize that experience to get the girls to meet their and the team’s goals.
“The girls that we are bringing on will be of [NRC] caliber. I definitely want my experience to help them reach their goals. In bike-racing, you can be the strongest cyclist and still not win a race. A lot of it is about strategy and team work.”
On a pragmatic side, Gomez also described the benefit of the new team to her personally. “From a business perspective, having my Pinnacle Training Systems brand out there, with more exposure in NorCal and NRC, will help my business. This is the first year that I will be working exclusively for Pinnacle. I have taken a leave from my position as a Professor at Fresno State.
“My focus has to be my business because it is going to be my career. Being able to expand nationally is going to help.”
Regarding the addition of a new NorCal Women’s team with Leopard-Sapporo, Gomez said, “There is no question that more teams playing the game the better the level of competition. NorCal is already, arguably, the most competitive conference in the nation. We have a lot of talent here.
“There are definitely some NCNCA races that mimic the level of NRC. I think that the more higher-caliber riders we have, because there are teams that are going to support them, the greater the development of NorCal riders into the Pro peloton.
“We have [some] local teams here that we are going to integrate into the Leopard-Sapporo Cat 3/4 Women. I think developing younger riders, keeping them in the sport, is the goal and our future. Again it comes back down to more opportunities they have in an extremely expensive sport.
“Being able to support younger riders and mentor them is absolutely key in growing the sport in NorCal as well as Nationally.”
Along with Jane Despas, Felicia Gomez is joining a team that includes Angharad Porteous, Anna Lindstrom, Emily Matheu, Jeanette Haggas, Laurel Larsen, Lorna Fortuna, Melanie Wong, Sara Bird, and Tina Hughes. There was also a 26 August announcement of veteren Pro Brenda Lyons becoming part of the NRC squad.
In 2011, the Women of Metromint Cycling outscored the second placed team, in the NCNCA Points Series, by better than 2-to-1. The following year, Metromint and Stevens Bikes p/b Pactimo had a combined score in the NCNCA Premier Series that exceeded all the points scored by every other team. Their combined total in the Points Series that year was also better than any ten other teams combined.
Whilst a two-team race can breed great rivalries, there was always room for improved racing with additional competitive teams.
At the beginning of 2013, Folsom Bike/Cervelo joined the NorCal Women’s peloton. This created a legitimate three-way battle at the top of the Premier Series, although Metromint is again close to doubling the second place team in the Points Series.
So earlier this year, with the announcement of a promising team in Leopard-Sapporo, the anticipation of four competitive teams for 2014 stirred some excitement in the Women’s peloton.
However, it now seems that the addition of a new team may be at the expense of an existing team. With both Jane Despas and now Felicia Gomez moving away from Pinnacle p/b Argon 18, the Bill Nicely squad will need to recruit well during the off-season to remain in the hunt with Northern California’s best Women’s bicycle-racing teams. One hopes this has not gone too far and indeed 2014 will produce the most competitive Women’s bicycle-racing in recent years. Nicely has, in the past, proven his acumen with excellent additions to his teams such as Amy Thornquist and Sara Clafferty.
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