Conyers eyes double joy in Cuba
Caitlin Conyers says she has evolved into a physically stronger and more intelligent rider as she pursues a pair of podium finishes at the Caribbean Cycling Championships in Havana, Cuba.
Despite knowing “little about race tactics” 12 months ago, Conyers claimed silver in the road race and bronze in the time-trial in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and is optimistic of matching that haul this weekend.
Since those breakout performances, Conyers has experienced her first major competition at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, last summer, where she finished seventh in the time-trial and tenth in the road race.
It did wonders for her confidence and she firmly believes she can now mix it with the very best in the Caribbean.
“I had no idea what to expect going into last year's championships,” Conyers said. “I didn't know a lot about tactics and it was just about getting my feet wet.
“This year, I feel I'm in a lot better position as I've just kept on improving my time-trial speed. I've increased it by 0.5mph and really want to keep that momentum going.
“I'm looking to do over 26mph; I think that would put me in a pretty good position to medal. I did the monthly Northshore Time-Trial on Sunday and hit 26.3mph, so I'm feeling very good for the time-trial.”
The women's elite field promises to be stiffer than last year's, with a trio of Cubans among the favourites, as well as Alexa Costa, of Trinidad & Tobago, who won the time-trial in Santo Domingo.
“There are three very strong Cuban girls who don't usually compete at the championships,” Conyers said. “Obviously this year, with Havana hosting the event, they will be there.
“There's definitely going to be competition, but if I stick to my speed goals then I definitely have a chance of a podium.”
Although the time-trial remains Conyers's favoured discipline, the 29-year-old has also made big improvements in the road race.
She will be joined by team-mate Gabby Arnold, competing in the under-23 division, which should help counter the threat posed by the Cubans.
“Gabby and I will have to work against the Cubans and make sure they don't go off alone, or make sure one of us is in the break with them,” Conyers added.
“Two of the Cubans [Arlenis Sierra and Jeidy Pradera] compete on the World Tour for Estana women's team. That level is a lot higher than the rest of the Caribbean. I feel very confident going into the road race. I know what I'm doing and what I'm looking out for and have a much better intuition level about what I need to do.”
Conyers, who has been focusing on indoor training through Zwift, a virtual programme, added: “The course is along the Malecón, a famous road along the coast in Havana. It's 11.4km circuit, two laps for the time-trial and seven for the road race. And it's going to be very hot!”