THE RAINBOW jersey is a distinctive one worn by the reigning world champion in a cycling discipline. To earn this esteemed piece of apparel is a pinnacle achievement for many elite cyclists.
Such is the dream of TT’s first-ever women’s professional road cyclist, Teniel Campbell – to be wrapped around the chest with the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) five horizontal coloured bands.
With the UCI Road World Championships still scheduled to pedal off in Aigle, Switzerland from September 20-27, Campbell envisions her possible participation as another stepping stone towards making this dream a reality.
Speaking from her Italian base on Thursday, Campbell said, “Competing at the UCI World Championships is always a goal, as one day I would like to win and proudly wear the rainbow stripes.”
In 2019, Campbell qualified two spots for TT in the Women’s Elite Individual Time Trial and Road Race events. The surging cyclist made her Road Worlds debut in the 30.3-kilometre time trial by placing 38th of 53 contenders but was unable to complete the gruelling road race, which took a toll on her still-acclimatising body.
This year, though, owing to the global pandemic, the UCI had to cancel several major events and adjust its international road calendar. Although the World Championships is still scheduled to be held in Switzerland, UCI events remain under constant evaluation and are subject to change.
But with Switzerland still set as the venue, Campbell is hoping her recent two-year developmental stint at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle will provide her with the slightest of advantages heading into the competition in just under four months.
“These are actually the roads I have been training on for the past two seasons, when I was a member of the CMC team at the Cycling Centre," Campbell said. "I do not know the exact roads but I have an idea of where the route could possibly pass from Aigle to Martigny for the time trial. When the borders are opened, it’s a priority to train on the time trial circuit so that I can really give it my best come September if the championships would still be hosted in Switzerland.”
The sudden stoppage of major international races over the past two months has also meant the sport’s global individual and nation rankings have remained fixed. Since there may not be any pre-World qualifying tournaments, selection to compete at "Worlds" is expected to be done by using athletes’ current rankings.
In the women’s elite category, Campbell has pedalled TT to a credible 26th on the world nation ranking and is currently positioned at 29th on the individual. Campbell remains optimistic about her chances of qualifying.
“With respect to the UCI world individual ranking I am still top 30," Campbell noted. "Hence I should qualify a spot, possibly two spots like last year. Regarding the road race, it’s a bit more demanding, as the final circuit includes a four-kilometre climb, with the total route elevation being close to 2,000 metres. A bit out of my current characteristics, as the route is more for ‘climbers’ – but you never know what can happen on race day!”