Caitlin Conyers: I’m in best form of my life
Caitlin Conyers believes she is in the form of her life as she continues her attempt to become the first Bermudian female cyclist to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Conyers has been making her mark overseas ahead of the first opportunity to seal qualification for the Paris Olympics at the Pan American Road and Track Championships in Panama from April 18-23, with two spots available in the road race for nations who have not already qualified through UCI points, .
After winning the Trofeu Fémines Ajuntament d'Ondara race, part of the Women's Challenge CV Series in Spain last month, the 32-year-old sealed one of the biggest victories of her career when prevailing in the 32nd Annual Women's Cross Country Classic in Belize on Sunday.
Conyers is adamant that recent success shows she is on the right path as she prepares for a crucial year, which features the UCI World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, in August, when ten Olympic spots will be available in the time-trial to nations not already qualified via the points route.
“This year has been fantastic so far and I definitely feel I’m in the best form I’ve ever been in,” said Conyers, who recently underwent a month of high-altitude training in Medellín, Colombia, and will stay in Belize to prepare for the Pan Am Championships.
“I feel really content at the moment and I’m seeing some huge improvements in my performances. Everything I’ve been doing is getting me ready for the Pan Am Championships and so far I feel like I’m doing everything right to be the best I can in races.
“I’m the fittest I’ve ever been and hopefully I can stay healthy because at the moment I just feel really good and happy with everything.
“The Pan Am Championships hold Olympic qualification places, so they are a big deal for all of us in the region because there is a lot at stake.
“It is the first opportunity to qualify and so I’m hoping to be able to go out there in peak condition and do the best that I possibly can. I feel ready and recent results have been really promising.”
Reflecting on her latest triumph, Conyers was delighted not only with the race win but the manner in which she claimed victory.
After making an early break to hold a minute lead over her rivals, Conyers’s race was temporarily halted by a tire puncture. With no spare wheel, she not only lost her lead but found herself two minutes off the pace by the time a replacement had been fitted courtesy of home rider Kaya Cattouse’s support team.
Despite finding herself adrift and battling against strong headwinds, Conyers remained undeterred, chasing for nearly 20 miles to rejoin the peloton before somehow finding the energy to attack again and reel in the race leaders to clinch the title in a winning time of 3hr 49min 24sec.
Mexican rider Diana Valeria Rodríguez settled for second, ahead of 2022 champion Katy Sorrell.
“Arguably this might not be my biggest victory, but it is definitely up there as the most rewarding of my career and the hardest I’ve ever had to work for a win,” added Conyers.
“This is one of Belize’s most prestigious races, it’s comparable to the May 24 race in Bermuda and so it’s great to have won.
“I was riding solo up front and feeling great and then I suffered a flat tyre and found myself well off the pace. I had to then chase for about 35 minutes in unreal headwinds but I managed to get back with the group.
“I just kept attacking and eventually one of them stuck and I managed to ride solo for the final part of the race for the win.
“I’m not overly impressed with my time but after getting a flat tire and having a long day of drama, I was absolutely delighted.”