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The American is racing her first full season as a professional after bursting onto the scene with her third place at least year’s U.S. national championships. She has since shown that it was not a fluke with some impressive results, including a top 10 at the Tour de France Femmes this summer.
Her rise in cycling has been so quick that she’s even surpassed her own expectations. At the start of this season, she penciled in the worlds as a target but didn’t think it would be a realistic goal until 2024.
Just over a week away from the start of the worlds in Wollongong, Australia, she’s getting ready to don the stars and stripes for the first time.
“I have a feeling it will be a bit overwhelming when I put the jersey on,” Ewers told VeloNews in a recent video call. “It’s funny, I was looking at my training peaks a few days ago, and just looking ahead on it and saw that I’d put worlds. And in the comment section, I said, ‘it would be nice, but it’s a good goal for next year.’ So I was kind of like, it’s probably not going to happen, but I’ll put it in the calendar just in case. So it was cool to go back to it and confirm that it’s happening. It really means a lot.”
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Ewers has been a sports fan since she was a child and long dreamed of having an opportunity to represent her country one day but she didn’t think it would become a reality. Having played soccer for several years and not getting to the level she needed to make the national squad, she thought her chances were done.
At first, her goal was to compete at the Olympic Games, but the world championships represent an equally big achievement for her. And, who knows, if she can keep performing as she has done throughout this season she could be heading to the Olympics soon enough.
“As a child, I always used to watch the Olympics or something and just be idolizing all of these athletes and being like, ‘oh, that would be so cool, but there’s no way that’ll ever happen to me.’ Even when I played soccer, I think I had a brief moment of, ‘yeah, I’m going to like play soccer and go to the Olympics.’ And then I played at the collegiate level, and the third division, and was like there’s no way, there’s no way I would ever go to the Olympics playing soccer,” she said.
“Bringing it to the cycling world, the Olympics is still huge, but worlds is much more significant. At least that’s what I’ve gathered. Just the fact that I’ll be able to represent the states is so amazing. I’m kind of emotional talking about it because I vividly remember being a child, and just thinking how amazingly cool it would be to represent the states and wear the colors at an athletic event. And just fight for your flag sort of thing. I never thought it would ever be possible.”
Playing the numbers game
It has been a strong season for the U.S. women in general and they’ve earned a full quota of seven riders after making it into the top five in the UCI’s nations rankings. It’s not yet known if USA Cycling will be able to send a full squad, however. Coryn Labecki was forced to pull out of the competition last week after she crashed out of the Simac Ladies Tour.
“That’s so unfortunate. She’s had the worst luck this year. I was really looking forward to racing with her as a teammate. Just because she’s one of the people I’ve looked up to coming into this sport. But yeah, I really hope she recovers well and can get back to a more fortunate year next year,” Ewers said.
Even without Labecki, who has been one of the USA’s top performers in recent years, the American squad has one of its strongest-ever rosters in recent seasons. Lining up alongside Ewers will be fellow cycling late-comer, Kristen Faulkner, national champion Emma Langley, Krista Doebel-Hickok, Skylar Schneider, and Leah Thomas.
The depth in the remaining squad should give the squad several options during the race and could see the team with multiple riders when it comes to the crunch, a big advantage against some very strong nations.
“Being able to have more numbers in the finale will be huge,” she said. “It’s just a numbers game. The more numbers we have up the better odds. So, I think we have a really good chance of having more numbers up than maybe in previous years. It’s really exciting to have such a strong American squad.
“I mean, Kristen Faulkner is just a beast. With the course itself being a mountain within the first 40k – and it’s not a small climb – and then going into a circuit of six laps that’s really punchy and with a lot of turns, it will be both a physically demanding course, but also technical. I think we have a really good team for that.”
Given her performances this year, Ewers will be a watched rider in the peloton and could be a contender for a medal by the end.
“We will see how it goes. I think I’ll have a good chance getting up and over the mountain and then it’s a pretty long race, being 164k. So, it’ll be a race of attrition, as well as needing to be technically savvy and strong to get over the mountain,” she told VeloNews.
“It’ll be really interesting to see how it plays out. If I am able to make it into a break that can stay away, I think I could have a good chance. I’m hoping to do whatever I can within the team, whether that be trying to get in that first break and seeing how it goes or helping support Kristen, in some way, or vice versa.”