Australian cycling’s favourite Italian, Valentina Scandalora, is back in Melbourne, choosing to spend the wintery pre-season months in her “second home” of Australia instead of the popular wintery hideouts of Spain or South Africa.
Scandolara spent the past two years racing for the Aussie Orica-AIS squad and has made many connections and friends along the way. She’s even spending Christmas with Nettie Edmonson’s family whom she lovingly calls “her second family.”
“I just love Australians,” Scandolara exclaimed.
Visiting friends is nice but Scandolara returned to Australia with a clear goal in mind: to get early season results while training.
Scandolara, who left Orica-AIS to ride for the new Cylance Pro Cycling team this coming season, has a full schedule of Australian summer races ahead, including Cadel’s Race and The Santos Women’s Tour where she’ll be defending her win from last year.
For these races she’s joining Carlee Taylor, Julie Leth and Loren Rowney as guest riders for the Roxsolt Ladies squad.
With Olympic year ahead of her and a spot on the Italian national team up for grabs, for Scandolara, racing is the best kind of training.
“My attempt to make the Italian selection for the Olympics starts now,” said Scandolara. “I’m hoping to get results early so I can concentrate on training hard in the spring while being the worker for my team, and peak in time for the Olympics. Last season I was completely blown by June-July. I want to make sure that doesn’t happen this year. Italian selection is very competitive and can happen quite late. Sure, I’ll need good results closer to the Olympics but it’s always good start the season with a leg up.”
By winning the Shimano Supercrit last weekend, she seems to be off to a good start. Now it’s onto the Santos Women’s Tour where many will be looking to her to defend her 2015 title, which marked her first professional stage race win.
From there it’s off to a busy schedule of team camps and UCI racing in Qatar, Europe and the US. Racing for the new Cylance, Scandolara hopes for new challenge and an opportunity to step up and be a leader.
“I want it to be known that I really enjoyed my time with Orica-AIS. I learned and grew a lot these past two years and am grateful for everyone I met during that period. But it was time for something new,” she said. “I want to develop further and I hope that alongside Shelley Olds, I will have the chance to improve my sprint and leadership abilities.”
“Cylance is keen to help each of us to make our Olympic dreams real… I believe that during this year, each one of us will have chances to step up,” Scandolara continued. “Racing at the Olympics is my biggest dream and I will ride my heart out to deserve that spot in Rio.”