Further Personal Information
||Health Studies, Nutrition - Quest University : Squamish, BC, CAN
Sport Specific Information
|When and where did you begin this sport?
||She began mountain bike racing at age 13 with a youth programme called 'Kids of Mud'. She later started road racing with the Manitoba provincial team in Canada.
|Why this sport?
||"I was pretty hooked after a few good battles through the dirt [while mountain biking]. Marian, the former Polish pro provincial coach, took notice and immediately recruited me to the road team. Old school training techniques, and comical road trips across the country helped develop my skills and resilience as a rider."
|Club / Team
||Team Sunweb: Germany
|Name of coach
||Hans Timmermans [club], NED
||She trains for about 21 hours a week. She also tries to fit in two strength training sessions, plus core and pre-ride muscle activation exercises each week to prevent injuries.
||Cooking, nutrition, exercise physiology, cross-country skiing, hiking, yoga. (Facebook page, 29 Jul 2020)
|Most influential person in career
||Her grandmother. (optumprocycling.com, 2013)
|Hero / Idol
||Canadian cross-country skier Beckie Scott, Canadian cyclist and speed skater Clara Hughes (teamgiantalpecin.com, 07 Jan 2016; optumprocycling.com, 01 Jan 2013)
||In September 2019 she tore the medial collateral ligament [MCL] in her knee after crashing during the Boels Ladies Tour in the Netherlands. The injury meant she was out of action for three months. (cyclingnews.com, 03 Jan 2020; cyclingnews.com 31 Dec 2019; Facebook page, 09 Sep 2019)
In 2015 she withdrew from the third stage of the BeNe Tour in the Netherlands with a minor knee injury. (velonews.competitor.com, 23 Jul 2015)
In 2012 she broke her collarbone after crashing at the Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minneapolis, MN, United States of America. (leahkirchmann.blogspot.co.uk, 07 Jul 2012)
|Superstitions / Rituals / Beliefs
||She always travels with her own coffee kit. "You can count on some countries like Italy to have amazing coffee, but I cannot say the same for everywhere in the world. I like to have something familiar in the morning wherever I wake up." (voxwomen.com, 28 Jul 2019)
|Sporting philosophy / motto
||"Team Sunweb's philosophy of, 'Keep challenging' really fits in with my own approach of always trying to be better and developing. I think intrinsically I'm always trying to improve and be the best that I can be, and both the sport and the team provide the environment in which I can do that." (teamsunweb.com, 03 Jan 2020)
||She represented Canada in mountain biking at the 2008 World Junior Championships in Commezzadura, Italy, where she placed 35th in the cross-country race. She competed in track cycling at the 2013 Los Angeles Grand Prix in the United States of America, and was a junior nationally-ranked cross-country skier. (SportsDeskOnline, 11 Feb 2020; optumprocycling.com, 31 Dec 2013; teamcolavita.com, 08 Jan 2011)
||To compete at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. (Twitter profile, 29 Jul 2020)
||EXPECTATIONS FOR 2024
She hopes that the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris will see an equal number of male and female riders competing in the road race. There are 130 male cyclist competing in the road race at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, but only 67 in the women's event. "I think it's about time that they change that. There should be equal spots for men and women. My dream is that the next Olympic cycle sees an equal number of spots. They promote themselves on equality so that how's it should be reflected. Women's cycling has grown so much in the last few years, and we have more and more riders joining the team. There are more teams and more races." (cyclingnews.com, 31 Dec 2019)
RACING IN NORTH AMERICA V EUROPE
She believes competing in Europe is tactically very different to racing in North America. "The way the roads and environment are structured, and the size and depth of the peloton, create these main differences. The level of fitness needs to be very high to be competitive in both, but what changes is how you expend energy during the course of a race. Big wide roads and not many obstacles mean that it is easier to position for climbs and other key moments in North America. In Europe, very narrow roads and a lot of technical features such as roundabouts, medians, poles and curbs mean that you need expend a lot of energy already in the lead in to important moments in the race, to remain in contention and execute your team plan. It is a bit ironic that the infrastructure that makes it safe as a rider in many European countries can create additional hazards for racing. I would quickly accept more road furniture in North America if it resulted in a safer and more inviting environment for cyclists." (voxwomen.com, 23 May 2019)
She is a certified cross-country skiing instructor. She is also an ambassador for Fast and Female, an organisation that aims to empower young girls through involvement in sport. (Facebook page, 01 Feb 2020; optumprocycling.com, 2013; teamcolavita.com, 08 Jan 2011)