Freeplay magazine caught up with Robin Farina, professional cyclist for Spy Giant Ride p/b MRI and President of the Women’s Cycling Association to hear her experiences at the Amgen Tour of California and to learn more about the WCA. Farina has been cycling for over 10 years and is the 2011 National Road Race Champion and a 2012 Olympic long team member.
Freeplay: Congratulations on a great two days of racing! It was very exciting to see so many talented women competing in Sacramento and to see so many fans cheering the women on! How would you describe your experience racing in Sacramento/Folsom and being part of the Amgen Tour of California?
Farina: The Amgen Tour of California(ATOC) is a very exciting stage for the women’s peloton to have the opportunity to race. With the high visibility media coverage and the push to highlight the women with live stream and primetime viewing spot more people are starting to realize that women’s cycling is just as exciting and aggressive as the men’s. Personally, I love having all the crowds, fans, media and hooplah around racing. It definitely makes me want to perform at the highest level. I am super happy to see the big races such as ATOC make the decision to highlight the women’s races. It a huge step in the right direction.
Freeplay: You had a teammate finish 7th out of 108 women on Sunday. What was the team strategy going into this event and what was your role? Is there anything you or your team would have done different?
Farina: Well, every race I enter is an opportunity for a victory. We did have Christina Gokey-Smith who is an accomplished sprinter but with that being said, I always look for opportunities to be in breaks. Our strategy was to race aggressively get in moves, highlight our sponsor and then also have a sprinter left for the finish.
Freeplay: Did the fact that you were scheduled to race the time trial Monday affect your race strategy at the circuit race?
Farina:Of course knowing I had to give a 100% effort the next day was always in the back of my head but at the same time I would have loved to have a break stick in the circuit race and be able to go for the win like that. I love criteriums because they are strategic and you have to have good skills to be at the front. The criterium also offered the viewers and fans a little more entertainment than the time trial so I am always up for putting on a good show!
Freeplay: Congratulations on finishing top 10 at the Amgen Tour of California time trial. What was your goal going into the race and how do you feel about your race?
Farina: The time trial(TT) was important for me for many reasons. First off it’s a great exposure race and as an athlete you are only as good as your brand so I looked at it as an opportunity to be showcased. Secondly the TT is a race of truth. There is no hiding and it forces you to suffer a lot which is crazily one of the reasons I really love bike racing. Pushing myself beyond my limits has always been something I am intrigued by and like to do just to keep me grounded.
Freeplay: Last year you rode for NOW and Novaritis. Was it difficult to find a new team to ride for this year and how has the transition to a new team been?
Farina: I really loved the NOW and Novartis Team. That team lasted for 3 years and we accomplished so much. Racing for a new team is part of the sport and I am happy to do it because there are different riders, different personalities but all the same goal, to WIN the bike race. The last year has been difficult to transition only because when you ride for a team, the riders and staff are like your family so moving on is sometimes hard. This year most of my time has been dedicated to helping the Women’s Cycling Association thrive. My bike racing has definitely taken a back seat out of necessity. I am hoping to find balance again soon with the WCA and racing.
Freeplay: You are the president of the Women’s Cycling Association(WCA). Did you or the WCA have a role in the Amgen Tour of California expanding the women’s race from one to two days? What do you think it will take to get Amgen to continue to expand women’s opportunities in the TOC?
Farina: I would like to think the WCA had a great deal in helping the women’s races expand. There is huge momentum right now for women’s cycling and the WCA spent a lot of time working with AEG and the ATOC to lobby for more women’s racing and exposure. I am very hopeful about what the future of the ATOC will bring for women’s cycling. I truly believe ATOC saw the value of women’s cycling with the 2 stages we had and I am willing to go to bat for a more stages and even a stage race next year. Having the women race brings another element of entertainment for the fans and spectators. Sports are all about entertainment so why wouldn’t you want to showcase the women too. It truly is a WIN/WIN!
Freeplay: The WCA has been very busy advocating for women’s cycling. What are some of the events and activities that WCA has been involved in so far and what are some of the future plans of the WCA?
Farina: That’s a great question. The WCA has been very busy in our first year of exisitence. Not only have we lobbied to USA Cycling on how to elevate women’s cycling, we have hosted many rides to help get more women in our sport and more women riding bikes. It’s a two-fold approach. In order to grow our sport at the top level, we need more women racing. In order to have more women racing we need more women riding bikes so our goal is offer a platform to women that is appealing and non-competitive through out Join the Ride Tour. We have several of these planned across the country. Go to www.womenscyclingassociation.com to learn about our rides and become a Member. EVERYONE can join!