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by Anne-Marije Rook
November 29, 2016
Photography by Cor Vos
WOMEN'S CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY ORBEA
A recent graduate of the UCI Sports Director course, US national time trial champion Carmen Small will put her directeur sportif credentials to use at a Danish development team called Team Virtu Pro-VéloConcept in 2017.
After a couple rocky years that saw Small change teams mid-season and controversially miss out on the US Olympic selection, Small, now 36, has been looking to wrap up her 10-year professional cycling career.The 2017 season will be a transitional one for the decorated time trial specialist, and Team Virtu Pro-VéloConcept is giving her the perfect opportunity: she will serve as a mentor on the road to her young teammates while gaining experience as a budding race director at some of the team’s races.
“I was a bit lost, to be honest,” Small told Cyclingnews. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t necessarily want to walk away from the sport. I wanted to continue, but I didn’t know how – and then [Bo Handberg Madsen] approached me…”
“The conversation sparked my interest because it’s not a traditional team. This isn’t a team with a bunch of really strong riders that will be driven only by results. It’s a building program with an eye toward the future. Women’s development is so important right now, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Team Virtu Pro-VéloConcept is a unique development-oriented team that focuses on on- and off-the-bike personal development. The riders, most of whom are transitioning from the junior level into the elite category, are given the opportunity learn professional skills to prepare them for life after cycling.
As a former school teacher, this approach appealed to Small who came to the professional sport late in life and has a lot of life and career experiences to bring to the team as she herself takes a new direction.
Carefully considering her path forward, Small said that being a rider, mentor and part-time director will allow her to slowly transition out of racing while also gaining hands-on experience and learn on the job.
“It’s hard to leave the sport or even move into a new role in the sport,” Small told Cyclingnews. “I’ve been doing this for ten years now, so I think it’s totally normal to feel unsure about how to move forward. For me, this is the perfect transition out of my career as a rider and into a different career path.”