Take 5: An interview with Tayler Wiles before her USA Pro Challenge podium
Special to the Daily
It’s safe to say that Tayler Wiles is the next big thing in women’s cycling.
The 26-year-old Utah native came to Colorado for the inaugural Women’s USA Pro Challenge as one of DNA Cycling’s strongest riders: She represented the U.S. at the Pan American Games in July and took the overall win at the Women’s Tour of New Zealand earlier this year.
In five years as a professional, she has seen her sport make huge strides. The Pro Challenge is the largest cycling event in the U.S., and so, adding a women’s division was a testament to the sport’s burgeoning popularity and acceptance. The three-stage race kicked off on Aug. 21 with a time trial in Breckenridge before heading to the Front Range for a 58-mile ride from Loveland to Fort Colllins. It wrapped up on Aug. 23 with an exciting criterium through downtown Golden.
In the time trial, she placed fifth out of 64 competitors, then went on to win Stage 2 in Fort Collins. She remained in the mix through all three stages, performing well enough to take second in the overall standings behind Kristin Armstrong — a two-time Olympic Gold medalist.
The Summit Daily sports desk caught up with the Wiles after the Breck time trial to talk altitude, training and the future of women’s cycling.
Summit Daily News: Tell me about your experience riding the time trial course.
Tayler Wiles: It was definitely one of the hardest TT’s I’ve ever taken part in. Altitude, for one, is killer, especially considering I’ve been at sea level for about four or five months. I had everything: I had flat crosswinds, I had steep uphill, I had really technical downhill in some turns. It had a little bit of everything. It was a pretty fun time trial, minus the 1-kilometer of that really steep hill.
SDN: It sounded like you had mixed emotions about getting fifth in the time trial.
TW: Yeah, you know, I think if I could have gotten acclimated, that would have been a big advantage. All of the other girls (who) were above me either live at altitude or train at altitude, and I just flew in from Spain and have been at sea level for a long time. So, I think if I would have been able to adapt, I would have done much better. But, given the circumstances, I guess I should be happy.
SDN: Would you say the only real way to adjust to this elevation is to be at this elevation?
TW: Definitely. I’d say it takes 12 days to acclimate to elevation, so you have to be there for a while, and, unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards for me before I came here.
SDN: So, what’s it going to take to elevate your riding and beat the Kristin Armstrongs of the world?
TW: (Laughs.) Yeah, you know, just keeping at it and getting better every year. Even learning about equipment and just the little things because at the top, especially the time trialing, it’s the details that matter. You have to have the right suit, the right wheels, the right bike.
SDN: Can you walk me through your daily training techniques?
TW: It kind of depends on the day and if I’m going into a race, but I have a coach who gives me a plan every day, and I do anywhere from one to five hours of different training intervals. It just depends what I’m prepping for.
SDN: Since turning pro, how have you seen the women’s cycling scene grow?
TW: Since I’ve been in cycling, women’s cycling has gotten bigger and bigger every year. There’s a lot of big things happening with the Union Cycliste Internationale, and they’re going to introduce the Women’s World Tour next year, which is really exciting. It’s going to be a lot more like the men’s structure, where only the elite teams can do the really elite races. And, eventually, they’re going to have minimum salaries, and teams will be bigger and better.
SDN: The women were given a very impressive introduction at the Pro Challenge. What were your thoughts on that?
TW: I love when they do women’s races with the men’s races because the organization is so good, and the announcers are good, and the crowds are amazing. So, races like this, races like Tour of Utah, Tour of California, are so much fun to be a part of.
SDN: You’ve had some experience riding in Europe. Is the women’s cycling culture there different from here?
TW: It’s definitely different. Cycling is ingrained in the culture in Europe, so the depth of the field is much bigger. It’s kind of like their football and baseball there.
SDN: What’s next for Tayler Wiles?
TW: Well, they announce the team for the World Championships pretty soon, so hopefully I’m going to make that team and just train really hard since Worlds are in America this year, and that’s pretty exciting.
SDN: Do you plan to make a run for the 2016 Olympics?
TW: Yeah, it’s always the hope, but they only take four for the road race, and two of those are time trial. It’s very, very competitive, but it’s always the dream.
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